Jeff Burton has long been considered the “mayor” of the NASCAR garage area.
Burton’s opinion on issues surrounding the sport holds by far more weight than anybody else’s in the garage area, even Mark Martin’s. Because Burton is a veteran who typically knows what’s going on in the sport better than any other driver, he is looked up to as the leader of the garage area.
But on Sunday, Burton threw his peers under the bus, and the future politician demonstrated some severely flawed leadership skills.
Burton was a little hot-under-the-collar after a late-race incident with Kyle Busch. He had a car capable of challenging for the win, but when Kyle Busch went all Kyle Busch on Burton during a late restart, contact between the two cut down Burton’s tire, and he finished well outside the top 20.
Burton had some words with Busch after the race, then said this in his post-race interview:
“I don’t care if he wants to race aggressively, as long as it doesn’t involve me. If it involves me, then I’ve got a problem.”
I know it may sound like I’m coming down hard on Burton here. After all, if somebody like Denny Hamlin or Greg Biffle had said that, I wouldn’t have a problem.
But Burton is supposed to be a leader. He holds himself to high standards, as do the fans. And for somebody who wants to be a politician after he retires, Burton had best start demonstrating some better leadership skills. Because in the world of politics, looking out for number one isn’t very popular.