By Mark Beech
June 11, 2009

What to make of Kyle Busch and his Nashville Guitar Smash (which hereafter shall be referred to as the NGS)? Well, first of all, I think I know what effect Busch was going for. Probably something like this. Or maybe even something like this. In other words, he wanted an iconic image that would befit his bad boy reputation, and would also be cool at the same time.

Not that I doubt his official story -- that he had promised a long time ago to smash the guitar and share the pieces with the members of his crew if he ever won in Music City. I'm sure this is true. And after some recent tough luck had cost him and his Nationwide car a few victories, I'm also sure he felt the burden of this commitment even more keenly.

So while I'm pretty certain that Busch, who's well aware of his rep in the sport, had some noble purpose in mind with the NGS, I also think that he intended for it to provoke some public backlash, as well. But I don't think he anticipated anything like what has happened. People are still talking about the stunt. The press is still writing about it. And they are all still pretty furious. I just did a radio interview with a station in San Francisco -- not exactly a NASCAR hotbed -- about the thing.

Smashing your own guitar in front of thousands of adoring fans is one thing. Specifically, it's a symbol of the rebellious spirit of rock-and-roll. But destroying a coveted, one-of-a-kind trophy in front of the people who just gave it to you -- a group that included the artist who's work appeared on the guitar -- is quite another. It's just downright rude.

Any evaluation of Busch's place in NASCAR has to come with some reference to his awesome talent. He's got the skill and the take-no-prisoners style that should endear him to fans. But his personality is keeping them at bay.

3: Points standing of Dale Earnhardt Jr. after 14 races in 2008

20: Points standing of Dale Earnhardt Jr. after 14 races in 2009

10: Top-10 finishes for Dale Earnhardt Jr. through 14 races in 2008

8: Top-10 finishes for Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the 35 races since his win at Michigan last June

Having lived in New York for over a dozen years, I've seen my fair share of unusual sights in Times Square. There are fixtures that are as much a part of the landscape there as the bright lights and ubiquitous electronics stores, like the Naked Cowboy, and the Black Hebrew Israelites; there are also the occasional one-offs, like the time a few years ago when Bertolli Frozen Dinners staged a publicity stunt that had a few dozen people dressed as chefs rampaging through the streets, and, more recently, the very unpopular closing of Broadway and the subsequent beach-chair invasion, to name but a few. There's also the only Red Lobster on the island of Manhattan.

But this, racing fans, is just the coolest, most interesting and random one of them all. My only observation: How did they keep pit row so congestion-free? I can't see any cops or roadblocks in the area, and it looks like Vickers just merges in with traffic at the end. There must have been some awfully polite cabbies on the road Wednesday.

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