This week, FOXSports.com will offer its own series of NASCAR awards to close out the 2011 season. In this segment, NASCAR on FOX’s Darrell Waltrip, Larry McReynolds and Jeff Hammond, FOXSports.com Senior NASCAR Editor Jorge Mondaca, SPEED Editor in Chief Tom Jensen, FOXSports.com Senior NASCAR writer Lee Spencer, FOXSports.com NASCAR writers Holly Cain and Rea White and SPEED NASCAR writer Mike Hembree weigh in on the drivers who just couldn’t hold it together for a moment this season.
NASCAR Blow-up of the Year
Waltrip: This one is pretty easy — that’s Kurt Busch. Through the whole year and right to the very end, this is Kurt’s award. The radio conversations he had with his team at Richmond and then what happened to him at Homestead, there’s no question he is the leading candidate for Blow-up of the Year. Special mention to Martin Truex Jr. for his interesting Richmond radio conversation — where he fired his whole team.
McReynolds: Even though it had nothing to do with the Sprint Cup Series race, even though it ended up affecting the Sprint Cup race, there’s no question you’d have to say Kyle Busch, moreso directed at what he did in the Truck race at Texas. I think Ray Dunlap put it best in his interview when he asked Busch if he lost his mind for a few minutes. I think that pretty much sums it up.
Hammond: I’m going to give this to Martin Truex Jr. for firing his entire pit crew at Richmond that night and losing his cool on the count of it. He was pretty animated and I think it kind of boiled over and it hit the fan at the right place at the right time.
Jensen: Kyle Busch at Texas. Wrecking Hornaday under caution was stupid, dangerous and flat unforgivable. Being less than contrite in the post-wreck interview wasn’t exactly brilliant, either.
Spencer: It had been long in coming. Six-time championship owner Richard Childress warned Kyle Busch to stop destroying his vehicles. For whatever reason, Busch simply did not get the message. Hence, the moment that made the words “hold my watch” famous as RC set out to avenge his honor at Kansas Speedway. Busch’s brush-up with the truck of Joey Coulter ended with a dust-up in the garage — and consequently a $150,000 fine for Childress. Where else but NASCAR could a 66-year-old grandfather teach a 26-year-old racer a lesson of principle?
Cain: Hold my watch please. Usually this goes to a couple of drivers tangling on the track — for example, Jeff Gordon and Jeff Burton wrestling after their wreck at Texas Motor Speedway last year — but this year’s award involves an owner and driver. Kyle Busch was on the wrong end of the ultimate takedown from 66-year-old championship team owner Richard Childress, who as legend has it, calmly took off his expensive wrist watch then took down the 26-year-old Busch in the Kansas Speedway garage following an on-track incident betweeen Childress’ driver and Busch.
White: The Busch brothers each made headlines and drew matching $50,000 fines from NASCAR, but Kyle has to take the lead on this one. After all, he was the one who was parked for two races – a Nationwide and a Sprint Cup series event – after intentionally wrecking Ron Hornaday Jr. at Texas Motor Speedway. He was the one who offered a cavalier response to the incident, before NASCAR officials laid down the law and he backtracked. It should be noted, though, that Busch had an otherwise calm year and endeavored to show a new maturity in situations throughout the season.
Mondaca: It was an interesting year to listen to the radio conversations between Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus. The winners of five-straight championships entering this season had their moments of tension, including a blowup at Dover late in the year when Knaus told JJ "If you’re going to drive my car, you’re going to drive by my rules," to which Johnson replied that he’s "not a little kid any more." It may be time for another "milk and cookies summit" like they had with owner Rick Hendrick in 2005 when they bickered to similar levels.
Hembree: Kurt Busch at Homestead – because it became so very public and its repercussions were more serious than any of the other Busch family misadventures.