It's difficult to describe how you can go from being friends with another competitor, respect his or her talents and abilities, and a few hours later dismiss everything you thought good about that driver.
The simplest explanation I can give is to use your own body of work as an example. As we travel through life, we all build our reputations, enhance our credibility through hard work and accomplishments, build credit through the positive interactions we have with people.
One major miscue, and in the eyes of that person, you've lost a trust that required years to build. You are essentially left having to start over.
That's the best comparison I can make of how Kyle Busch feels toward Joey Logano this week, primarily because I believe he no longer trusts him, and Joey will have to earn that trust back, not through what he says, but rather through his actions and behavior on the track.
There are many ways for competitors to react to receiving the boxing equivalent of a low blow.
You can warn the other competitor, you can retaliate against the other driver or you can even physically confront him. Kyle chose the latter.
How and why that happens is different for everyone, and it is often a reflection of one's personality. But it can also be a spontaneous reaction from a fierce competitor who has simply blown through his tolerance of someone he goes door-to-door with, week in and week out.
I am not endorsing Kyle Busch's behavior, and I'm not criticizing Joey, not this time. I believe both contributed to last week's failures that led to Busch spinning onto pit road in the final lap at Las Vegas.
How both feel this week is something I understand because I've lived it. It's two different perspectives, and it alters the code each driver applies toward the other, at least for a while.
Kyle will test Joey at some point during a pass in the next few weeks. How Joey handles that moment determines how this feud evolves.
On the flipside, Logano can't allow the actions of the last week to affect the way he goes about his business. Joey is a winning driver because of the talent and aggression he applies each week. Any less, and he creates a headwind for himself against other peers who will be watching with curiosity.
Joey has done all that is required of him off the track. He has attempted to mend fences, and he has even presented data of how he executed the last set of turns, the turns that led to Kyle's demise.
Logano's challenge is to effectively put this in the rearview mirror and continue racing with the intensity and risk required each week, because without that, the potential for his first Cup championship will be greatly diminished.
These are two drivers critical to the potential prosperity of NASCAR over the next five years.
They will undoubtedly test each other on several occasions, and how they manage those occasions will determine how well they can or cannot coexist at the sport's highest level.
They do not have to like each other to maintain their success, but they do have to respect each other, or they run the risk of becoming preoccupied with winning the battle and ultimately losing the war.
It's uncomfortable as hell to have another competitor dislike you or have disdain for you. It truly can be the greatest form of distraction, and as many of you have heard me say, distraction for a competitor is poison. But managing these moments goes a long way toward determining your mental toughness -- a clear requirement for any professional to experience sustained success.
Ask Rusty Wallace, Darrell Waltrip, Ricky Rudd, Geoff Bodine or Terry Labonte, to name a few, how he acted or reacted to a Dale Earnhardt beating on the racetrack, which most often evolved into a weekday controversy. Each of these drivers spent periods of his career mad, frustrated or disappointed with Dale.
What might surprise you is that Mr. Earnhardt most often delivered, or sent word, that it wasn't intentional. The contact he made with you was "just good hard racing."
What Dale didn't do was show an ounce of mercy the next time the two of you shared the racetrack. He was relentless in how he competed, with an attitude on the track that contradicted the attitude he had off of it. When Dale drove against you, he really didn't care what your opinion was. He had one objective in that approach. Dale was a seven-time champion and arguably the toughest of any driver I have ever competed against.
Joey Logano has the capacity to win several Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series titles. To date he has none, and how he handles the next month of racing could give us tremendous insight toward what his true potential is.