Why is Kyle Busch the most hated driver in NASCAR?
That question is thrown around a lot over the years, and while he is nowhere near as despised now as he was at one point in his career, he still has a sizable amount of people that love to hate him.
If we were to pinpoint the moment he drew the ire of the NASCAR faithful, it would have to be April 18th, 2008, when he spun the sport's most popular driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr, at Richmond Raceway. Dale Jr. was only a handful of laps away from winning the race and erasing a multiple-season losing streak when Busch accidentally spun him going into a turn.
Not only was Earnhardt Jr noticeably upset about the incident, especially given his losing streak, but the backlash from fans was also so bad that Kyle Busch needed security to exit the track. Keep in mind this was at the peak of Dale Jr's popularity in the sport.
This was the impetus for Kyle Busch to become the most hated man in NASCAR. Of course, his cocky attitude, fallouts with other drivers, and his outright dominance at times made everything worse, but him wrecking Earnhardt is what cemented him as the villain.
Interestingly enough, this wasn't the last time that Kyle Busch would draw the ire of NASCAR nation. In fact, Busch would anger fans around the world in 2011 after spinning out the Truck Series point leader, Johnny Sauter, and ruining his night. The action was so bad that Busch was parked for several races and even fined 50,000 dollars.
Even worse, Sauter's wreck made him ineligible to compete for the championship that year, which was a massive blow to the driver and his team. Busch committed the cardinal sin of interfering in someone else's title chances, and he was quickly labeled a dirty driver for the incident. Some even labeled it as the end of Busch's career and said it was something that he would never recover from.
That's the thing about Kyle Busch though, he is a polarizing figure, and while he deserves a lot of that for the mistakes he made throughout his career, he has also become one of the most dominant drivers in the entire sport. Just to put Busch's dominance in context, he has over 200 wins in NASCAR's top three series, which is something that hasn't been accomplished since Richard Petty back in the '60s and '70s
Beyond that, Busch gained a lot of sympathy from NASCAR fans throughout the 2015 season after coming back from two leg injuries to win his first Cup Series Championship. The championship victory was something that hadn't been seen in modern-day NASCAR history and started to shift the image of Busch from villain to the iron man of the sport.
Think about it! This man broke his legs at over 180 MPH and came back to finish his season. Of course, he missed about a third of the season rehabbing his injuries, and a lot of people doubted he would even be a contender. Still, he proved them all wrong by winning five races that year, including the season finale at Homestead Miami.
And that's maybe why NASCAR fans have this love/hate relationship with Kyle Busch. He's unbelievably cocky, short-tempered, and a bit of an ass, but he is a fighting champion. That's the magic of Kyle Busch- the ability to make people talk about him no matter what they are saying. Busch is a cult of personality, which is something that NASCAR is missing right now. They need him to fill that void. Whether fans like it or not, Kyle Busch is what is keeping NASCAR alive, and they should be thanking him for it every single day.