M & M’s Anyone?

Episode #82

November 22, 2015

 As I was munching on Peanut M & M's at the Radio Station last Wednesday night, I just had a feeling. :-) HTF Motorsports photo

As I was munching on Peanut M & M’s at the Radio Station (WFST AM 600) last Wednesday night, I just had a feeling.  HTF Motorsports photo

Comeback Story of the Year in Sports?

As my brother and I were watching the rain delayed Ford Eco-Boost 400 on TV,  we debated the chances of Kyle Busch pulling off a Sprint Cup Championship. Could he win at a track where he hasn’t experienced a great deal of success?

Wouldn’t it be nice for Jeff Gordon to finish on a championship note? The underdog, Martin Truex, had a story book possibility should he take the Championship. A Kevin Harvick win would mean Oxford native Mike Morneau would own three championship rings.

Four hundred laps later we got our answer as Busch passed Brad Keselowski for the lead after a “debris” caution near the end of the race. Busch is establishing himself as the king of restarts as he made a great move which ultimately netted him the 2015 Sprint Cup Championship.

The crowd cheered as he took his time doing a burnout and circling the track proudly displaying the Champion’s flag. The crowd acknowledged the fact that he had to work extremely hard to put himself into position to drive this year, let alone win.

I remember the sickening pounding he took at Daytona in February which broke bones. I figured he might get into a race car late this year, yet he proved me wrong when after 11 races he was back in the Joe Gibbs #18.

My take on the whole thing is that Kyle Busch received a wake up call. His wife delivered their first child May 18th after Kyle ran the Sprint All Star Race at Charlotte May 16. This was only four months after his broken right leg and left foot.

Having suffered a severed Achilles tendon one year ago, I know how long it takes to heal. I know, I know, “You’re an old man and it takes a long time for the ‘elderly’ to heal”.

What I noticed is that the break from the normal hub-bub that I had while healing allowed me to read, watch cooking shows, and reflect on my relationships with family and God. I am thankful for the injury and what it forced me to do.

I believe I am a better person for the experience. It is also my feeling that Kyle Busch had time to reflect on his family, friends, and God.

People have noticed something different about Busch when he came back. Yes he was still super competitive. At this level one must be to survive. Busch now exhibited new appreciation for his wife Samantha and son Brexton. When something went wrong he was frustrated yet did not blow up like the old Kyle Busch.

Am I the only one who noticed this change? Did you notice? The fans at Miami-Homestead acknowledged the change and celebrated with the “Candy Man”.

The Championship was Busch’s first as well as Toyota’s. It was Joe Gibbs Racing’s number four. I believe that somewhere in Busch’s mind he wanted to win this for J.D. Gibbs who suffered a terrible sickness this year.

University of Northern Ohio , Motorsports graduate Lauren Koshiba with Kyle Busch at Lucas Oil Raceway in 2014. Photo courtesy Lauren Koshiba

University of Northern Ohio , Motorsports graduate Lauren Kosiba with Kyle Busch at Lucas Oil Raceway, Claremont, Indiana in 2014. Photo courtesy Lauren Kosiba

Up and Coming Motorsports Crew-Member Weighs in on Busch

I first met Lauren at the Oxford 250 when she was working with the Wyatt Alexander Racing (WAR) team in their attempt to qualify. From a previous episode you may recall that she was a University of Northwestern University (UNOH) Motorsports graduate who also worked with the pit crew group honing her skills as a crew-member.

Lauren has experience in several series including the NASCAR K & N Series, Sunoco Modifieds, and local race teams. She currently resides in Milbury, Massachusetts. Her 2016 plans include working with John Studley with his Sunoco Modified at Thompson Motor Speedway, Thompson, Connecticut. She also will be getting her NASCAR crew member card and hopes to assist the WAR team when she can.

Kosiba is a Kyle Busch fan with a desire to work at some level as a crew member on the Kyle Busch Late Model or Camping World Truck Series. I contacted her after Busch won the championship.

“Kyle is an awesome race car driver’, said Kosiba. “He can wheel any type of car he gets in.”

“He treats his fans with respect as I have seen in person. He came back after a broken foot and broken leg and won the championship. I am beyond excited as a fan of his.”

Brad Winters’ Reaction

Some of you may recall my motorsports writer friend, Brad Winters, from Columbus, Indiana.  I used several of his quotes since he was familiar with Tony Stewart who I wrote about in an earlier episode. Brad is a human interest writer who looks beyond the hype and noise. He looks for the true character of men and women he writes about.

Winters had this to say about Busch and Coach Joe Gibbs, “I am not a fan of his (Busch) personality but that does not affect the way that I appreciate his talent.”

“It is amazing how he came back this year from his accident. He has consistently proven over the years that he has considerable talent and determination. I believe he was the most talented driver not to win a championship until today.”

“I am happy for him and also for Joe Gibbs. No one deserves another championship more than Gibbs.”

Winters also noticed that it was a different Kyle Busch who won this championship than the one from previous seasons.

Busch Not the Only Comeback Kid; How About Fort Kent’s Austin Theriault?

As remarkable as Busch’s championship drive was, I believe Austin Theriault’s return was huge for the Maine racer. When I saw him hit the wall at Las Vegas in October I feared the worst. I held my breath when I saw him slumped forward as he slide into the infield grass where medical attendants were quick on the scene.

I was concerned when I saw him slump to the ground after being removed from his #29 truck. The report of compressive fracture of his vertebrae was not good news.

Theriault also had several weeks of recovery undergoing intense physical therapy and exercise. He had time to reflect on where he was and where he wanted to go.

The injury forced him to the sidelines where he could only watch as Brian Keselowski and Austin Cindric drove the #29 in three races with okay finishes. Theriault removed any doubt about his abilities when he drove 134 laps in the Ford Eco-Boost 200.

After the race he said,”Homestead is such a challenging track because the tires wear out so much and the track loses a lot of grip throughout a run. It’s difficult to make up any lost positions.”

“We had some good battles throughout the night. I found the wall a couple times trying to find the limits.”

“Overall I was a little disappointed with the finish because I think we definitely had a top 10 truck. I was just happy to return to the driver’s seat of the Cooper Standard Ford F-150 before the end of the year.”

“I owe a big thanks to all the medical personnel who helped me get back to competition. I was pleasantly surprised by how I felt after the race.”

I would love to see Theriault in the Eric Jones Kyle Busch Motorsports Camping World Truck in 2016. Jones will be spending his time in the Xfinity and Sprint Cup Series. Might as well dream big I say!

My nephew Isaiah John (IJ) Smith's 2015 Rabbit GTI seems to be talking to my 1983 GTI. What do you think they are saying? Photo courtesy IJ Smith

My nephew, Isaiah John (IJ) Smith’s, 2015 Rabbit GTI seems to be talking to my 1983 GTI. What do you think they are saying? Photo courtesy IJ Smith

Should I Get My Rabbit Ready to Play?

After sinking over three thousand dollars and two years into restoring my 1983 VW Rabbit GTI I let it sit for the past two summers. I am sure it has fuel pump issues. A fuel pump is about $275 new (if that is the problem).

All my discretionary funds the last two years have gone into my Senior Champ Kart which I race at Spud Speedway. So my question to you readers is should I spend the money and time to bring it back to the street in 2016?

IJ's VW Rabbit GTI seems to be encouraging my GTI to come out to play. HTF Motorsports photo

IJ’s VW Rabbit GTI seems to be encouraging my GTI to come out to play. HTF Motorsports photo

Let me know what you think. If you want to sponsor the project I will be glad to share ideas. Don’t forget it is still not too late to sponsor my airfare to the PRI Show at Indianapolis in a couple weeks. Email your comments to me at thale@reagan.com

Be sure to tune in next week when I interview a decorated female Marine hero from the County and her husband who is involved in professional motorsports. Until then…

Let’s go racing!

Tom Hale

Soli Deo Gloria


Tom Hale

About Tom Hale

Tom wrote 14 years as freelancer for the Bangor Daily Sports covering motorsports in Maine. Now blogging and concentrating on human interest stories about people and places in racing. He races Champ Karts and owns HTF Motorsports in remote Westmanland, Maine