(WTVR) - His fans, his peers and his detractors have all had different names for Kyle Busch throughout his racing career. He holds several "youngest" records in the sport, including youngest pole winner in the Cup series and youngest Chase qualifier. He was Toyota's first winner, the first winner at Kentucky and the first to win 4 straight spring races at Richmond International Raceway. He's also had his dustups with the law, including an appearance in a Henrico courtroom for reckless driving.
He's been called "Rowdy", "Schrub", and "Wild Thing", but now, he must also be called "Sprint Cup Series Champion" after winning his first in 2015. Does that mantle carry with it an added layer of gravitas to what he now may say or do in the future? It depends on who you ask.
"I think that's debatable, whether or not people want to give me that credit of being a champion" Busch said during this week's NASCAR Media Tour in Charlotte. "I think that's up to them. But as for me, I don't feel any differently from before I won a championship as I do today. As far as having stature, that's to grow over time."
"I think anybody that is a champion takes a little different role" said Busch's team owner Joe Gibbs. "People probably pay a little more attention too."
Busch explained that stature in the sport can come from winning, but not necessarily championships. He pointed to South Boston native Jeff Burton as an example of someone who's words carry a lot of weight in NASCAR without the benefit of having won a championship.
"He's very vocal and he's very smart" Busch said of Burton. "He doesn't have a championship but we still listen to the guy. I don't think that your weight changes necessarily based off your accomplishments. I think it's more based off who you are, your personality and what you're talking about."
Busch did announce he would no longer run in the Xfinity or Camping World Truck Series events held at superspeedways after his crash at Daytona last February broke his right leg and his left foot and caused him to miss the first three months of the season. That, combined with several other life events in 2015 led to one of the most unique years that any driver has ever had.
"There was a moment in time where I wasn't sure if I'd ever race again" Busch said. "Things progressed faster than normal which was huge for us to be able to make the Chase. I've never sustained an injury in a race car that bad. The birth of my first son. Turning 30. I do feel that I've learned a lot and maybe changed a little bit from all of those circumstances."
"It was a season to remember for sure, but one that you'd never want to repeat. But 2015 is done, and it's on to the future."