BRISTOL, Tenn. - By all accounts, the Busch brothers, Kyle and Kurt, are two of the most hated NASCAR drivers at any track that isn't Las Vegas.
And the longer that continues, the better it is for NASCAR.
If Mike Helton is smart, he'll do whatever he can to keep the Haterade flowing.
Hand Kurt a win like some ill-begotten victory in the predetermined world of professional rasslin.
Pass out doctored photos of Kyle pouring sugar into Junior's gas tank.
Seriously, whatever it takes.
Business is booming for NASCAR. Now that ESPN has attached itself to the sport, ratings are up for the Busch Series while the Chase for the Nextel Cup worked to perfection last season.
And most of the top drivers have clearly defined and highly partisan followings. But a villain or two wouldn't hurt. And the Busch brothers could be those villains.
It isn't because they're somewhat arrogant or smug, although that helps. The reason they work as the guys most everyone loves to hate is because they win, and win a lot.
For example, you either love or hate the New York Yankees or Duke basketball.
There's not a baseball fan out there who's "on the fence" when George Steinbrenner shells out a dollar amount equal to the gross national product of some third-world country to buy a new left fielder. Some people cheer. Most shake their heads in disgust at the practices of those awful Yankees, even though several other teams - Cubs and Red Sox, I'm looking at you - now operate the same way.
And when the Yankees come to town, attendance goes up. Their fans come out, sure, but so do droves of people who are there just to boo them.
The same goes for Duke basketball. Sure Coach K's Blue Devils weren't their usual dominant selves this season, but for the teams that beat them, it was still a big deal. And I guarantee most college hoops diehards who aren't Duke fans enjoyed a malevolent chuckle or three at watching a mediocre season for the boys in Durham peter out with an early NCAA tournament exit at the hands of VCU.
But the fact that subpar finishes are rare in Durham or the Bronx is one of the reasons both those widely reviled teams are such a hot ticket.
They're hated because they're successful. And they're successful, in part, because they're hated. It instills an attitude of superiority, a faith that speaks of "We're better than them."
The Busch brothers don't seem to have much trouble on that end. They come off like the stereotypical, smug jocks from high school - the ones that are good and know it.
It's the type of character folks can relate to. And, based on what took place on Sunday, NASCAR could use some more characters.
An exciting finish notwithstanding, Sunday's Food City 500 was relatively tame by the chaotic standards set at Bristol Motor Speedway in years past. Factor in the snoozer last fall, and that's two straight mediocre races at a track NASCAR touts as the most exciting and unpredictable stop on the circuit.
Don't just take my word for it.
"It seems as though there was some long green-flag runs, which were good, some mix-up in the back of the pack that hopefully made it exciting for the fans. But when the front got strung out it was kind of boring."
Kyle Busch said that.
Keep talking, boys. And keep winning. NASCAR needs a good pair of bad guys to root against.
After all, as Kurt Busch noted after winning last year's Food City 500, Busch apparently still rhymes with "boo."