INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — It wasn’t, Kyle Busch admits, the best way to rally the team.

Sitting inside a car struggling to keep up during NASCAR’s visit to Chicago two weeks ago, the talented but testy star grew so frustrated he lashed out at his crew.

“I got nothing,” Busch said over the radio. “I don’t care what you do. It’s junk.”

Only afterward did Busch learn a couple of lost spring rubbers to the right-rear made his No. 18 Toyota handle like a runaway bus, leaving him seemingly helpless as he limped to a 33rd-place finish.

Would knowing the problem have stopped him from getting upset? Of course not. Busch’s knows his fiery competitiveness is part of what makes him one of NASCAR’s most successful drivers.

The 24-year-old also knows it’s time to find a different way to channel his anger.

“Maybe I’ve won some races because of who I am, but maybe that’s a lot of the reason why I’ve lost some races is because of who I am,” he said. “There’s a balancing act in everything you do and there’s consequences and ultimately repercussions for things so I’m trying to work on it.”

Busch huddled with spotter Jeff Dickerson and public relations manager Bill Janitz during NASCAR’s off week to figure out how to better communicate with crew chief Steve Addington during the race.

“I’m just trying to think and sometimes I wear (my emotions) on my sleeve too much and I need to shake it off and just figure that it’s not going to be me that fixes the car,” Busch said.

Busch enters Sunday’s race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway 10th in points. That’d be a good season for most. It’s barely tolerable for a driver who dominated the regular season last year before fading during the chase for the championship.

“I don’t like to be chasing, I like to be the guy leading so it’s hard,” he said. “Sometimes you have to look back at the big picture and realize that you can do a lot more to help and rally the team than really hurting it and dragging it down.”

The problem isn’t the good days, it’s the bad ones.

Instead of trying to salvage a respectable finish when the car isn’t right, Busch finds himself scrambling to stay in the top half of the field. He heads to Indy with more races where he’s finished 22nd or worse (eight) than Top 10s (six).

“You can’t have super bad days,” he said. “If you’re having a bad day then you need to make a 10th out of it and we’re not very good at that, I’m not very good at that and I don’t think our team is very good at that. Maybe that’s because of me, maybe I’m not leading it in the right direction.”

Calling out his crew isn’t the best way to raise morale. Busch acknowledges he’d be better served if he stopped complaining and started talking.

“Maybe I give up a little bit and don’t tell my team exactly what we need on fixing the car,” he said. “That frustration sets in and then we don’t get the car better because I’m zoned out. I’m still driving the heck out of what I’ve got, but then we don’t get the car any better because I’m so zoned out.”

Regardless of Busch’s struggles, the drivers ahead of him in the standings aren’t ready to write him off.

“I think we all kind of frame in what we think of Kyle and what his shortcomings would be and then he knocks it down and does something that impresses all of us,” said three-time defending series champion Jimmie Johnson. “He can really step up and deliver when he needs to.”

Busch knows he better start delivering soon if he wants to make up ground on Johnson and company.

If all else fails, he could crack open a book. Team owner Joe Gibbs has spent the week touting the release of a new motivational guide. Busch says he hasn’t read it. He knows it might be time to.

“Apparently it’s a game plan of life,” he said, “so maybe that’s what I need.”


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