Kyle Busch puts brakes on speeding

July, 27, 2011

Kyle Busch is doing a good thing.

Not because I suggested it in a May column, but because it was the right thing to do.

Busch is joining Doug Herbert to promote the B.R.A.K.E.S (Be Responsible and Keep Everyone Safe) program that the NHRA Top Fuel drag racer began in 2008 after his sons Jon and James were killed in an automobile accident while speeding.

Busch is doing this to help teenage kids avoid doing stupid things such as driving 128 mph in a 45 mph zone, as Busch was caught doing in May. He is doing this because something he says may help save a life one day.

He is doing this because he understands now better than ever what it means to be a role model and how one well-publicized mistake can have a negative impact.

He is doing this because despite his bad-boy image there's a good guy inside.

I saw it two years ago after watching Busch visit the Gleaners Food Bank in Indianapolis. I saw it a year ago as he told the romantic story about how he got down on one knee and proposed to his soon-to-be-wife, Samantha.

I heard it on Wednesday as Busch talked about his decision to join Herbert's cause and shared what his message to teenagers will be when he speaks to one of the classes.

"I've always had kids come up to me and tell me I'm their favorite driver,'' Busch said. "When you look at how much public attention this drew, it certainly caused an uproar. It shows a little about what kind of public figure you may or may not be sometimes.''

Say what you want about Busch's driving style, about the significance of his 100 wins in NASCAR's top three series, about whether he has matured or not, about whether you like him or not -- this is a good thing.

Busch simply could have taken whatever punishment the judge gives him at his Aug. 23 hearing and move on. Instead, he became involved with a program that will, as Herbert told me, "make a difference, and something good is actually going to happen because of it.''

That is Busch's goal. He truly was upset that Michael Waltrip and New Hampshire Motor Speedway president Jerry Gappens, to name two, have joked about his situation over the past few months.

There is a sincerity in Busch's voice that wasn't quite there the first time he addressed the situation.

"It certainly isn't a joking situation, and I'm not taking it lightly,'' Busch said. "Certainly, you can get involved in an accident. Ultimately, you can hurt yourself or someone else, kill yourself or someone else, so it's not something that should be taken lightly.''

That will be Busch's message when he speaks.

It's a strong message, one that hopefully will save a life.

It's a good thing he's doing.

David Newton | email

ESPN Staff Writer



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