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Kyle Busch Stands With Dale Earnhardt Jr. On NASCAR Health Standards

Gowtham Ramalingam

What Happens if a NASCAR Driver Gets Sick During the Race?

It is not uncommon to see drivers in motorsports go through intense physical training to be in the perfect shape that would allow them to handle the demands of their complex race cars. However, that hasn’t been the case in NASCAR. Puffing away cigarettes and chugging on multiple cans of beer has been the way of life in North American stock car racing… until recently.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. spoke about the changing physical standards in NASCAR on his podcast and expressed how keeping himself in shape did nothing to help his results. He also said that the 7-time Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson had set unreal expectations for him by being an athletic race car driver.

Following through on this stand, Kyle Busch has now voiced his own experience with hitting the gym. “Jimmie ruined it for a lot of us,” he said on the Pat McAfee show and mentioned how he got yelled at by his crew chief for getting a bit chunky. Upon being urged to work out, eat healthy and sleep better, he tried his hand at a cleaner lifestyle.

Sadly, it didn’t yield results for him. He continued, “I spent 6 months in the gym working out, slimmed down, lost some pounds and what not… the results didn’t change. Nothing happened.” He reiterated that the results were all about the car that the driver was in and not so much about the physical shape.

He noted how a driver once said that you can’t drive a slow car fast and that it was the “truth of the matter”. Continuing to make his case, Busch brought forward one of the most legendary and yet criminally underrated names in stock car racing history, Dick Trickle.

The stone cold attitude of Dick Trickle that reflected what NASCAR was all about

Going back in time a few decades, one could see a race car driver aggressively shifting gears for a NASCAR win with a smoking Marlboro in his mouth. Voices from the broadcast box would’ve confirmed that the man’s name was Dick Trickle. Known for his relentless character and never-ending stamina, Trickle was someone who essayed the explicit rawness of NASCAR.

While other drivers would be gasping for oxygen after a race in the top tier without a shred of energy, Trickle would stand by the gas pumps with one hand on his car and the other holding a cigarette. I could go another 100 laps, he’d say. It went without saying that his lighter always came out whenever the yellow flag did. This character made him the perfect example for Busch to draw out.

He said, “He would show up at the race track with a Coors Light in one hand and a cigarette in the other. They wouldn’t let him in with the Coors Light but they would let him in the car with cigarettes. He had them taped to his roll bar and had an open face helmet. So, while the race is happening he would just reach out, grab a cigarette and be smoking under yellow.”

“That was NASCAR. That was the premise of the drivers that you had,” Busch concluded. With the changing landscape in professional stock car racing cars are made with greater engineering precision than they ever were before. This unquestionably increases the need for perfect physical fitness to deliver peak performance.

If not now, maybe the future will make it a mandate to, at the very least, not be chunky. Reducing the rawness levels a tad bit to advance the sport on a positive front would be a well worthy sacrifice.

Post Edited By:Srijan Mandal

About the author

Gowtham Ramalingam

Gowtham Ramalingam

Gowtham is a NASCAR journalist at The SportsRush. Though his affinity for racing stems from Formula 1, he found himself drawn to NASCAR's unparalleled excitement over the years. As a result he has shared his insights and observations by authoring over 350 articles on the sport. An avid fiction writer, you can find him lost in imaginary worlds when he is not immersed in racing. He hopes to continue savoring the thrill of every lap and race together with his readers for as long as he can.

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