Kyle Busch is great for the sport of NASCAR. Fans either hate him or love him—there’s no in-between with him. He comes off as arrogant, cocky, and even sports the nickname “Rowdy,” for his aggressive driving style and perceived slights against other drivers. In recent years he’s matured and slowed down a bit—he’s a family man now—but many people will never like him.
He’s angered a lot of people, including some pretty high-ranking legends of the sport. He’s said a lot of mean things, gotten into physical altercations with drivers after races, and he’s been fined by NASCAR. But above all else, he’s won—a LOT. He’s one of the most successful NASCAR drivers of all time, and at the age of 34, there’s a chance he might pass Richard Petty’s 200-win hallmark at some point.
Still, you don’t get to the top without stepping on a few toes—or bumping a few cars into the sides. Here are 9 drivers who can’t stand Kyle Busch, and 7 drivers who have made peace with him.
Brian Vickers has had a rivalry with Kyle Busch for a while, and he’s not afraid to talk about it or call our Busch how he sees it. Back in 2009, at the Nationwide Series race, the two had an altercation after the race, which included some word exchange and visor grabbing, Busch called Vickers an “idiot.” Vickers responded, saying, “Typical Kyle Busch, crying like a little baby.” They had to sit next to each other during an awkward post-race interview, and Vickers said, “I am so sorry—I forgot it was the ‘Kyle Busch show.’”
During that same race at Watkins Glen International, racer William Byron retaliated against Kyle Busch for a previous slight, and he received all sorts of support for his retaliation. Rick Hendrick defended Byron, and Chad Knaus even goaded Byron to retaliate. This all started when Busch spun out trying to pass Byron, and then he sent Byron off the track in the chicane later on. So, Byron’s retaliation seems justified, since he initially did nothing wrong.
Joey Logano and Kyle Busch’s feud is pretty legendary, because it all got caught on camera after the Kobalt 400 in Las Vegas, in 2017. Busch and Logano collided as the two fought for top-five, and Busch spun out relegating him to 22nd. After the race, before words could be exchanged, Joey sucker punched Logano. Logano and his crew quickly took Busch to the ground, and he received a bloody forehead. Neither party were penalized.
In 2017, fan-favorite Danica Patrick caught the ire of Kyle Busch, and she aired it out on Twitter. During the I LOVE NEW YORK 355, Danica Patrick spun out and put the blame on Busch, who was caught on camera spinning her. Her response was colorful, saying, “(Expletive) 18 absolutely (expletive) took me out! (Expletive), (expletive), (expletive)! Now I know why people hate him!” She ended up 22nd that race, snapping her streak of top-15 finishes, while Busch came in seventh.
Earlier this year, Pocono marked the 11th time Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski finished 1-2 in a Cup race, adding to their storied rivalry. The two have no love for each other, with both of them frequently taking to social media to badmouth the other. As Busch has put it, “Brad and I can’t stand one another, hate each other, because every time he runs into me, he wrecks me and I’m out, right? Like Watkins Glen that time. There was not a chance for rebuttal… There’s never that camaraderie with racing.” And Brad has called him “an ass” before getting in his car to race, to all the NASCAR fans watching.
One of the primary reasons why NASCAR fans love to hate Kyle Busch stems from an incident he had with Ron Hornaday in 2011, during the NASCAR Truck Race in Texas. Busch wrecked Hornaday intentionally, and was parked for the race and fined $50,000 by NASCAR. Busch has even said of the incident that wrecking Hornaday was the “worst thing he ever did on track. I guess it’s time to own it.” At the time, though, he blamed Hornaday.
Back in 2010, David Reutimann and Kyle Busch had a pretty notable rivalry that seemed to erupt anew every other race. It started when Busch rammed Reutimann at the Price Chopper 400, and then 100 laps later, Reutimann blatantly drove into Busch exiting a turn, effectively ending his chance to win. It was a Chase race, so it actually had meaning, and years later Busch still hasn’t forgiven Reutimann for the perceived retaliation, since he thought his ramming of Reutimann was unintentional.
Last year, Kyle Busch criticized NASCAR’s marketing of young drivers as “dumb” and “stupid,” to which Bubba Wallace, a former driver for Kyle Busch, called Busch’s comments “troublesome” and, “That’s so dumb. So stupid.” Just a few days ago, Bubba Wallace spun Busch out at Watkins Glen on the front stretch. Wallace said, “I’m going to get my respect on the track, and I don’t care who it is. I won’t put up with no (expletive), so I flat out wrecked his (expletive) back.”
Nine years ago, Todd Bodine was the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion, and he said, “I’d like to thank Kyle for driving me dirty and pushing me down,” obviously adding insult to injury. Busch later said, “I’m aggressive, not dirty,” and he was angry that Bodine for saying that. His own response added, “I thought that was kind of low, but that’s how Bodine is.”
In 2010, following the Coca-Cola 600 race, racer Jeff Burton got into it with Kyle Busch. Kyle cut Burton’s left-rear tire and spoiled the veteran’s night, making him angry, though he said, “He was doing what he needed to do to pick up positions, and I respect for that. But… he was just being aggressive and made a mistake.” By the time he woke up the next day, he said he was no longer angry, but said he wished Busch had shown him “a little more respect” (via SBNation.com).
These two have had an intense rivalry for a while, and the origins of their feud runs deep, but Earnhardt Jr. has called Kyle Busch an amazing, Hall of Fame driver. They are two of the biggest stars in the sport, and have been for more than a decade, but even though they’re “polar opposites” (via Noah Gragson, one of Kyle’s former drivers and Dale’s current driver), they seem to have a mutual respect for one another these days.
Chase Elliott and Kyle Busch have had a few run-ins and rivalries during races, but they’ve always managed to stay respectful toward each other. Earlier this year, they were involved in some incidents in the Food City 500 race. But in 2017, after winning the Apache Warrior 400 in Dover, Kyle said, “I can’t say enough about Chase,” and “I gave it all I had,” which is pretty high praise from the veteran.
Back in 2010, a dispute between Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch began a feud. Hamlin said, “Kyle brings this stuff on himself,” and “Each year I think Kyle’s going to grow, and he just doesn’t.” They had a lot of radio chatter, with Kyle “jokingly” saying he was going to kill Hamlin. They’ve since made up, and now Busch has even helped Hamlin win a championship at the Daytona 500, because it was important that a Joe Gibbs-owned Toyota won the race.
After a historic win at the Cup Series at Bristol in 2017, Kyle Busch and Kyle Larson had a mutual admiration for one another. They’ve gotten into a fair share of beefs, but that seems long past them both. As Kyle talked about why he and Brad Keselowski don’t get along, he also said, “The reason Larson and I get along and can have a relationship and respect for one another” was a sense of camaraderie—if Busch bumps Larson, he’ll expect retaliation, and vice versa.
Even though Keven Harvick said earlier this year that there’s “No one I want to beat more than Kyle,” and the two used to share an unhealthy rivalry that got in the way of things, both of them have matured as the years have gone by. Nowadays, Kyle has even said, “Kevin Harvick and I are like old high school buddies,” to NBC Sports, which just shows how much Kyle Busch has changed—at least in the eyes of some drivers.
Carl Edwards is old hat when it comes to aggressive driving—he’s arguably done as many, if not more, sketchy things on the track as Kyle Busch has. And though the two used to have a feud (even though they both raced for Joe Gibbs and Edwards bumped Busch on the final lap to win Richmond Sprint 2016), the duo made peace talks, and were cordial until the sudden retirement of Edwards in 2017.
References: reddit.com, charlotteobserver.com, nascar.nbcsports.com, autoweek.com