GOOD GUY VS. ROWDY.
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.
’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.