Over the past couple months, I've noticed that Kurt Busch has repeatedly made comments about the "People magazine" aspect of NASCAR.
His disdain for the celebrity/personality element of the sport and what he calls the "he-said, she-said" stuff – the media coverage of driver rivalries – has been apparent.
When he made another reference to it during a news conference on Friday, I asked him to explain if he felt there was any place for the "personality element."
As I stated the obvious during my question – that Busch clearly preferred to focus on racing over personality – he butted in.
"Really?" he said sarcastically. "We're race car drivers. You answered your own question."
But does Busch believe there is a place for the personality element in the sport?
"Well, I mean, the guys at Hendrick are pretty boys and they get on People magazine covers and that's their job," he said. "My job is to race cars, and that's what I focus on. I like to race the cars and race 'em hard and race 'em smart."
Busch then mentioned his incident last week with Jimmie Johnson, who wrecked him on one of the straightaways at Pocono (part of the crash that collected Elliott Sadler).
"We'll talk about racing, because that's what we should be talking about," he said. "If the roles were reversed and the 2 car wrecked the 48, I would have been hung. I would have been lynched at the gates for wrecking the four-time champion.
"But if the roles really were reversed, I wouldn't have bumped the 48 in that fashion and both of us would have continued on and ended up with good results."
Busch fielded a couple more questions about his rivalry with Johnson (who had said just moments before Busch's arrival that he hoped everything was behind them) and took another shot at Hendrick.
"...I even thought that I had a shot at jumping in that 5 car," Busch said at one point. "A pretty boy named Kasey Kahne got picked over me."
After it was over, Busch walked off the podium and approached me.
His eyes were red, burning with intensity. He leaned in and said sharply, "I can't tell you what to write. I drive cars."
I was confused but assumed he meant this: If he sat up in front of the media and scolded reporters (like Tony Stewart) for covering what he perceived to be non-stories, he wouldn't do himself or Penske Racing any favors.
Still, I told him I was simply wondering whether he thought there was a place for the personality element in NASCAR.
"I drive cars," he said, walking away.