Is KyBu NASCAR’s Version of “Joe  Btfsplk”?

Kyle Busch

The satirical comic strip “L’il Abner” featured a character named Joe Btfsplk, who was drawn with a perpetual rain cloud over his head.

Given his recent performance on track and the frightening experience his family endured Thursday at the Mall of America, Kyle Busch seems to feel a certain kinship to the hard-luck character.

Busch, wife Samantha, son Brexton and baby daughter Lennix were visiting the Mall of America when word of an active shooter cascaded through the crowded facility. Samantha and Lennix were separated from Kyle and Brexton, who were waiting in line for a ride.

“There was definitely a sense of danger, a huge sense,” Busch said. “Samantha called me—we had no idea. Brexton and I were in line for a ride; we were next to go on that ride. And Samantha called me, and I answered, and we skipped right through going on the ride and went right back out the exit.

“And then we just stayed on the phone together because she told me, ‘There’s an active shooter and shots have been fired in the mall.’ And at that point, active shooter or somebody shooting at another person, whatever shots being fired, you don’t know. 

“So that’s the scariest part is you have no idea what is happening, so I’m asking her, ‘Where are you? What store is it coming from? What level are you on?’ All those sorts of things to figure out. Am I walking my way right into it? Or am I walking my way out of it? And so there’s chaos.”

Fortunately, Busch and his family got out of the mall unharmed, but to the driver of the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, the experience was emblematic of the last two months. Frustrated in his contract negotiations for 2023 and beyond, Busch comes to Michigan on a career-worst streak of seven races without a top 10.

“I guess if you look at that dark cloud that’s over me lately—hence the other day—we’re in the wrong place at the wrong time a lot of times,” Busch said ruefully.

His run of bad luck included a disqualification after running second at Pocono, where post-race inspection revealed tape added to the nose of his Camry and that of ostensible race winner Denny Hamlin, who also was disqualified.


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