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
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
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
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
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.