FUMES #436
Tuesday, March 11, 2008 at 02:20PM

March 12, 2008

Toyota's historic win overshadowed by the emerging brilliance of Kyle Busch.

By Peter M. De Lorenzo

Toyota's inevitable first victory in NASCAR's top series - the first by a foreign manufacturer since Al Keller drove his Jaguar for a win back in June 1954, at Linden Airport in Linden, N.J. - was indeed historic, but the driver who delivered it for the Japanese company is the real story. Kyle Busch has clearly arrived as NASCAR's premier young talent. A young driver who was once on the cusp of going nowhere not too long ago due to his propensity for running out of brains long before he was even close to running out of talent has emerged as a dominant force in NASCAR at the age of 22.

You don't have to be a fan of NASCAR to grasp the talent this kid puts on display every week, because it just jumps out at you when you see him at work. You can tell by the way he flings his car around the banked speedways - with the tail hanging out at lurid angles - that Busch is operating in a different dimension from everyone else, one more in common with some of the biggest driving names in history than with his fellow NASCAR drivers. The kid has remarkable car control, the likes of which hasn't been seen since maybe Ronnie Petersen or the great Gilles Villeneuve (insert your own favorite legendary driver here), and you can tell by the awed comments of Darrell Waltrip, the former NASCAR Champion and Fox Sports commentator, that Busch is truly something special.

So as much as Toyota's first win - and possibly first Sprint Cup Championship - was bought the minute they threw a boatload of money at Joe Gibbs to switch his allegiance from Chevrolet, of even more significance to the Toyota effort was the fact that JGR hired Kyle Busch (after he was released by Rick Hendrick in favor of Dale Earnhardt Jr.). For it is Busch who has the capability to totally dominate a weekend like he did in Atlanta, where he won the Craftsman Truck race on Friday, had the Nationwide Series race in the bag before losing a tire on Saturday, and spanked the rest of the field on Sunday to the point that he was noticeably faster everywhere around the track.

If you haven't really watched this kid drive yet, stop and take the time to check him out. We could be watching a future all-time great blossoming right before our eyes.

Publisher's Note: In our continuing series celebrating the "Golden Era" of American racing history, here is another image from the Ford Racing Archives. - PMD

(Ford Racing Archives)
LeMans, France, 1966. Carroll Shelby (far right) confers with Ken Miles and Denny Hulme during a routine pit stop of their Ford GT MK II during the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

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