Kyle Busch's thrilling Truck Series win on Saturday at Talladega reminded me of his victory there in the same race one year ago, in which he climbed from the truck afterward and declared, "That. Just. Happened."
The backstory is a fun one, so for those of you who weren't on Twitter at the time, I thought I'd share it again.
On the Monday before the Talladega race last year, Busch and Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Joey Logano were invited to Buffalo, N.Y. to host the WWE Raw show. I was allowed to tag along and write a story for the now-defunct NASCAR Scene, where I worked.
During rehearsal for the show (which was very much scripted), Busch wondered aloud if he should add any lines of his own. I blurted out that he should throw in a memorable Ricky Bobby line from Talladega Nights: "That. Just. Happened."
Busch shook his head no, so I said he should use the line in Victory Lane sometime when he won.
"I'll give you $10 if you say it in Victory Lane," I said. "That would be hilarious."
"Nope, $100," he replied flatly.
$100? I don't know if Busch realized that sportswriters aren't exactly rolling in cash, but $100 was way out of my price range.
"I can't afford $100!" I protested. "I can only do $10."
"All my bets are for $100," he said, unmoved.
And that was the end of the conversation. I don't recall agreeing to the bet – and I certainly didn't think he'd come through, anyway – but in the very next race he entered, Busch ended up winning.
He pulled into Victory Lane, got himself out of the Truck and had the following exchange with Speed's Adam Alexander on live TV (you can see the video by clicking here):
Alexander: "You have been a big part of Billy Ballew's success. Where does this one rank?"
Busch: "That just happened..."
I couldn't stop laughing. The tweets poured in from people who had recalled me mentioning the dare on Twitter just a few days earlier. He actually did it! they said.
So the next week at Texas, in order to pay off my bet, I waited outside Busch's hauler and pulled a $10 bill from my wallet when he arrived.
He wasn't interested. He practically turned his nose up at the money.
"Where's the other $90?" he said as he walked by.
I couldn't even get him to take the $10 bill out of my hand. I had to pass it to his public relations representative Bill Janitz.
There was no way I had agreed to a $100 bet (mainly because that's crazy and I would rather spend the money on, say, food). But apparently he thought I had, and the pressure mounted when it somehow got around Twitter that I wasn't a man of my word.
That wasn't a reputation I wanted, so I showed up in Miami and presented him with a check for the other $90. He accepted it proudly.
About a month later, I noticed it hadn't shown up on my bank statement. At a December press conference announcing Kyle Busch Motorsports' move to the Truck Series, I casually inquired as to what happened to the check.
He told me it was in a frame, saved as a souvenir for posterity.
"I won't deposit it unless you write bad shit about me," he said.
As a result, every time I write something negative about Busch, I make sure to take an extra close look at my bank statement.
He hasn't cashed it yet, but it's only a matter of time before I have $90 fewer in my account.