Kyle Busch is going to win his 200th race in NASCAR’s top three series before long and it will be compared to Richard Petty winning 200 times and some folks will say it’s blasphemy and others will say you can’t compare the two and still others will try anyway.
This isn’t a comparison of the King’s 200 wins and Busch’s soon-to-be 200 wins.
Richard Petty won 200 times in ONE series and if Busch was to win 200 times in only the Monster Energy Cup Series or only the Xfinity Series or only the Gander Outdoors Truck Series … well then you’ve really got yourself a story.
But that won’t happen.
If this isn’t a comparison of wins then what is it?
It’s this: Kyle Busch might be the most talented race car driver anyone has ever seen in NASCAR.
Whoa! Stop right there!
Better than Petty, who won seven championships and seven Daytona 500s and, as mentioned earlier, 200 races? Petty won on dirt and asphalt and some surfaces that were a little bit of both.
Better than Dale Earnhardt, another seven-time champ who won 76 races and was one of the most feared drivers of his era?
What about Jimmie Johnson, just the third driver to win seven titles? He’s at 83 career wins and those include Daytona 500s and Southern 500s and Brickyard 400s and Coca-Cola 600s.
David Pearson and Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart and Cale Yarborough and Darrell Waltrip … all winners of multiple championships.
Better than those folks? In their prime?
Busch is 33 and just hitting his prime and he’s already won five times this year. He swept both races at ISM Raceway this past weekend (Cup and Xfinity) and won two of three the previous week in Las Vegas (Xfinity and Truck).
For the record, he now has 52 Cup wins, a series record 94 Xfinity Series wins and a series record 53 Truck Series wins.
He has only one championship and it would be easy to say it’s the current format that’s to blame – a driver and team can win 35 of 36 races and finish fourth in points based on that one final, season-ending race. How many drivers have won multiple titles since the format was introduced in 2014? None, that’s how many.
On the other hand, a truly superior competitor should be able to rise to the occasion regardless of the situation.
Maybe it’s too soon to call him the best or put him in that conversation until we see what the future holds.
Again, this isn’t about comparing one driver’s numbers with another driver’s numbers. It’s about the singular accomplishments of Busch, driver of the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 Toyota in the Cup Series.
Busch is competitive in every single series he enters – whether it’s Cup or Xfinity or the Trucks. Not just competitive though. He wins. A lot.
He also makes those around him better, whether it’s his teammates at JGR or his own drivers at Kyle Busch Motorsports.
All great drivers share that trait – they make those competing against them excel.
Save the “he should pick a series and stick to it” rants. There’s absolutely no reason Busch should not be able to compete in any series he chooses when it’s allowed. NASCAR has placed limits on how many races folks in Cup can run in other series and it may or may not be fair. But that hasn’t stopped Busch from racing in those series or winning in those series when he can.
Is he beating up on no-name competition? If you consider current and former series champions “no-name” competition, then maybe so. I don’t know. I get the impression his competition takes that particular comparison as a slight.
Busch does not have an “unfair advantage” unless you consider being blessed with tremendous talent an unfair advantage.
Would those drivers mentioned previously have more wins had they had the opportunity to compete in other series as well? Maybe. Who knows? Earnhardt won 21 times in what’s now the Xfinity Series while folks such as Gordon and Johnson and Stewart didn’t spend an awful lot of time there.
But again, this isn’t about comparing his wins to anyone else’s wins. It’s about what Busch has accomplished so far, what lies ahead and where exactly it will all leave him when he calls it a career.
Is Busch the best? I guess it depends on one’s criteria. What makes a driver “the best” in his arena? Is it championships won? Total wins?
Or something less tangible?
Busch is closing in on 200 victories and it isn’t the same as Petty’s accomplishment but it’s still pretty darn impressive.
And for that he should be appreciated. Race fans likely won’t see such an accomplishment again.