Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Kyle Busch Comfortable Wearing White Hat; Hot-Headed Driver Has a Cooler Demeanor after Turn as NASCAR Villain

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Kyle Busch Comfortable Wearing White Hat; Hot-Headed Driver Has a Cooler Demeanor after Turn as NASCAR Villain

Article excerpt

Byline: Don Coble

Nothing has changed with Kyle Busch's fiery passion to win. He still stirs more emotions in the grandstands, both good and bad, than any other driver. His post-race bows remain a confident way to taunt anyone who doesn't appreciate the way he goes about his business.

But one thing is different - the smile.

His patience has been pushed to his breaking point a couple of times this season, but he hasn't reacted with one of his usual meltdowns. He hasn't stormed out of interviews, and he hasn't been reprimanded by his race team.

And for the first time in years, he hasn't been placed on probation by NASCAR.

His wedding five months ago and his 26th birthday on Tuesday might be reasons for Busch's new personality.

"There have been people who have said, 'We like the new you,' or 'We like the married you,' or whatever it might be," he said. "I have had those people, but I also have had the other people who have said, 'It feels like you're going soft on us.' It's the best of both worlds. It's good.

"I've changed a little bit and things have gone really well and been a lot different, but yet I still feel the same with on-track success and being competitive and all that stuff, too. I just say that as long as the results don't go soft, we're OK."

Busch won his second Sprint Cup race of the season last Saturday night at Richmond International Raceway. He's also won four Nationwide and two Camping World Truck series races in limited appearances.

Having 94 combined career victories in all three series is another reason for young Busch to smile.

While Busch is trying to downplay his transformation, he seems to enjoy the attention it's attracting. He worked with Charlotte Motor Speedway last week to promote the Sprint All-Star race, playing the role of a cowboy in a white hat who was making sure nobody else "stole" the million-dollar first-place prize money. …

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