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Younger Busch, vets are at odds

Published Feb. 25, 2006

Kyle Busch admits he sometimes makes bad decisions on the track. But the youngster says, instead of criticism, some good advice would be appreciated - and far more constructive.

It was natural for Busch to wind up in the spotlight Friday at California Speedway. He won his first Nextel Cup pole here a year ago and then became the youngest driver in NASCAR history to win a race in its top stock car division when he took the checkered flag in the September event on the 2-mile oval.

But the 20-year-old, last year's top Cup rookie, wasn't particularly happy that the questions kept going back to last week at Daytona, where his driving was blasted by reigning Cup champion Tony Stewart after the two tangled during the Daytona 500.

"He's the one guy who's probably going to hurt somebody out here," Stewart said of Busch in the heated aftermath of the race. "He's all over the place. He's what we like to call a dart with no feathers. He just doesn't know where he's going."

Busch pointed out that Stewart, also penalized for rough driving during that race, has not called or approached the youngster to talk about the situation.

"That's how a lot of stuff gets started," said Busch, younger brother of NASCAR's sometime bad boy, Kurt Busch, the 2004 series champion. "People run their mouths with the media instead of actually confronting the driver.

"Help me out. I'm a young guy and I'm trying to learn. If you want to teach me something, come up and discuss it with me and tell me what I need to do differently. I'm out there doing the same stuff that he's doing, or Jeff Gordon, or Jimmie Johnson, or anybody else - not thinking that it's anything wrong.

"But I'm inside my car. I'm not inside anybody else's car watching my car go around the racetrack. I could use any kind of help out there."

Dale Earnhardt Jr. said Busch is pretty wild.

"But most rookies are," Junior added Friday. "I can't say I did any better when I was in his position. But he could turn it down a notch. You make mistakes and he hasn't made any real big ones. But he just needs to realize that he's right on the brink of really ticking off somebody he doesn't want to tick off.

"I think he'll figure it out. A lot of rookies come in here pretty wild."

Brian Vickers, Busch's 22-year-old Hendrick Motorsports teammate, starting his third season in Cup, said it's true that young drivers often make mistakes, adding "and I've made my share.

"Guys under 25 are young and wide open and full of energy and inexperienced. That's part of the sport, part of growing up. Every veteran out here has been young at one time and they were probably aggressive and sometimes over their heads."

And Vickers also would like to see the veterans be more understanding.

"If you go to a rookie like you never made a mistake or did anything wrong, you're coming across the wrong way," he said.

Despite their youth and relative inexperience, both of the young Hendrick Motorsports drivers, teammates of four-time Cup champion Gordon and last week's winner, Johnson, are expected to battle for spots in this year's Chase for the Championship.

"We're just trying to become a little more consistent this year," Busch said.