GOOD GUY VS. ROWDY.

S6

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - GE­ORGE DIAZ

Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. are highly pro­fi­cient at turn­ing left, lap af­ter lap, mile af­ter mile. But their paths di­verge when you look at their NASCAR ca­reer pro­files.

Truex is one of the “good guys,” a la­bel he de­serv­ingly wears as a soul sur­vivor on two fronts — ris­ing from the ranks of a lone-gun driver on a smaller team and as a part­ner who has stood side-by-side with fi­ancée Sherry Pollex, an ovari­an­cancer war­rior.

Busch is a fam­ily man, too. Mar­ried with a son named Brex­ton Busch. But Busch has earned the nick­name “Rowdy” for a rea­son. He mixes it up at the track and on so­cial me­dia, strik­ing first and think­ing about con­se­quences later. His on­go­ing feud with Brad Ke­selowski has been pop­corn-wor­thy en­ter­tain­ment.

Busch and Truex are two dif­fer­ent men, united in a com­mon cause of try­ing to be­come your 2017 Mon­ster En­ergy NASCAR Cup Se­ries cham­pion.

Truex leads the pack at 951 points with two races to go in the reg­u­lar sea­son. He has four wins and 10 Top 5s. Busch is sec­ond in points at 850 with two wins and nine Top 5s.

They’ve been scary good in re­cent years. Kyle won the ti­tle in 2015 and was third last sea­son. Truex has fin­ished fourth and 11th in that span.

Ev­ery sport is driven by ri­val­ries and sto­ry­lines. The NASCAR nar­ra­tive would be quite com­pelling if these two guys were among the four left stand­ing in Novem­ber for the fi­nal race in Home­stead.

Busch’s skills as a wheel­man were quite ev­i­dent ear­lier this month at Bris­tol when he won all three se­ries races at the same track, a feat he has ac­com­plished twice in his ca­reer. He re­mains the only driver to ever pull it off.

He also man­aged to get in some qual­ity time on the in­ter­net, re­spond­ing to a troll by tweet­ing back: “You’re an id­iot!! Go back to ur grand­mas base­ment cause the 65 em­ploy­ees @KBMteam will want to have at u if I shut down.”

You got to give the guy ex­tra credit.

“I don’t care,” Busch said. “All noise is good noise.”

There has been a lot of “good noise” about Truex, but it’s the more emo­tional and poignant kind.

Pollex re­cently had surgery for a re­cur­rence of her ovar­ian can­cer. Pollex, 38, was di­ag­nosed with Stage III ovar­ian can­cer in Au­gust 2014 and un­der­went rad­i­cal surgery that in­cluded re­moval of her ovaries, spleen, ap­pen­dix, Fal­lop­ian tubes and part of her stom­ach.

She re­mains in good spir­its, but the on­go­ing strug­gles con­tinue.

Con­text is nec­es­sary be­cause of Truex’s jour­ney: Get­ting caught in the wreck­age of the Michael Wal­trip Rac­ing crew in 2013. He be­came col­lat­eral dam­age for the shenani­gans at the Rich­mond reg­u­lar-sea­son fi­nale, deny­ing him a spot in the Chase. He then emerged as a one­man wreck­ing ma­chine for Fur­ni­ture Row Rac­ing.

In rac­ing terms, Truex is a sur­vivor, too.

That does not mean that you should cheer for them and not Busch.

It just gives NASCAR the per­fect segue into the play­offs with two races left.

Ev­ery great story has a hero and an an­ti­hero. You get to pick sides and watch the drama un­fold be­fore your eyes.

BRIAN LAWDERMILK, GETTY IMAGES

’Good guy’ Martin Truex Jr. is doused by his crew af­ter win­ning at Watkins Glen, left, while ’Rowdy’ Kyle Busch whoops it up af­ter his vic­tory at Bris­tol.

MATT SLOCUM, THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

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