The Frontstretch: Five Points to Ponder: 100 Wins, The One-Two Punch and An Empty Brickyard by Danny Peters -- Tuesday July 19, 2011

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When we next return to New Hampshire Motor Speedway in late September it will be for the second race of the 2011 Chase. And if you thought tempers were frayed and fenders busted and bruised this past weekend, just wait until the next time the Sprint Cup drivers take to the one mile flat track in the Granite State when the stakes will be even higher: especially those with a shot at dethroning the five-time champion, Double J. Speaking of the No. 48 team, Johnson certainly had another one of those golden horseshoe type weekends – seemingly out to lunch for much of the race before finally finishing fifth. Which just served as another warning, if any were needed, that he remains the man to beat – no question. One driver that just might unseat juggernaut Jimmie is the marginally less irascible Kyle Busch, which is where we’ll start this week’s edition of Five Points to Ponder…

Kyle Busch notched his 100th Victory in the Top 3 Series of NASCAR…a worthy accolade no matter who you are. Image by RJ Grady

100 Up for Kyle Busch

Kyle Busch’s Nationwide victory gave him a total of 100 wins across the three top echelons of NASCAR. Those victories break down as follows: 22 Cup, 49 Nationwide and 29 Trucks with Saturday afternoon’s victory tying the all-time Nationwide Series record with Mark Martin. In a typically classy gesture, Mark Martin came to Victory Lane to congratulate a driver who is half his age — such longevity is to be celebrated in the cut throat world of top level NASCAR. Now I’ve seen plenty of dissenting, churlish voices wanting to play down and lessen Busch’s efforts, so it’s instructive to compare and contrast his efforts with some of his rivals.

Martin, for the record, has 96 total wins (40 Cup, 49 Nationwide, 7 trucks), Carl Edwards has 58 (19 Cup, 33 Nationwide, 6 Trucks) and Kevin Harvick has 63 total (17 Cup, 37 Nationwide and 9 Truck). Now you could argue that Busch has padded his total with his Truck victories, but to me the 100 is an achievement that is to be lauded. It’s hard enough to win one race (just ask Michael Waltrip) so to have won so many races and still be just 26 years of age is, in my eyes, absolutely incredible.

SHR Heating Up at Just the Right Time

Speaking of victories, a big shout out to Ryan Newman who broke a long winless streak finishing ahead of his team-mate and boss for Stewart-Haas Racing’s first ever 1-2 finish in their two and a half years of operations. With the two SHR racers starting ahead of the pack, it really was a tremendous day for what is still a fledgling organization – albeit supported by engines and chassis’ from the best in the business – Hendrick Motorsports. For Newman in particular, the win was very much an insurance policy for his Chase berth – not to mention his first in the Army car.

In short, it was just what the doctor ordered for all concerned at Stewart-Haas racing, a fact Smoke was quick to note post race, “It was a perfect day for the organization for sure. This is a perfect way to go into an off weekend, for sure. Especially going into Indy, man, this is big for everybody at Stewart-Haas Racing.”

A Long Overdue Week Off

It’s a rare off weekend on the Sprint Cup schedule, but if you can’t live without cars turning left at great speed with reckless abandon, you can still catch both the Nationwide and Truck Series action from Nashville, so all is not lost. For the Cup drivers, though, this is the last free pass weekend before we hit the final stretch of 17 straight weeks of racing all the way through to Homestead-Miami and the crowning of the 2011 Sprint Cup champion.

As Harvick, another presumptive championship challenger, commented on the ubiquitous NASCAR form of communication — Twitter — post race, “I don’t even need to say anything…looking forward to a week off to regroup and take a break from the world…”

I’d suggest he makes the most of it, because if he wants to knock Jimmie J off the top of the ladder, he’ll need every ounce of effort to do it before heading to the Brickyard.

How Many Will Show Up at Indy?

There may be a few folks involved with ticketing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway who have some sleepless nights these next couple weeks. Attendance has seen a precipitous decline, particularly these past three years after the tire fiasco in 2008 when NASCAR was forced to throw a caution every ten or so laps. The numbers make depressing reading: In 2007, 270,000 fans attended, 2008:240,000; 2009:180,000, while last year saw just 140,000 enter arguably the most famous track in all of motorsports. In many ways it’s a great shame, but it’s indicative of how processional the racing has become at the Brickyard despite the efforts being made to vastly slash ticket prices. One thing is for sure, the crowd is going to look pretty dam sparse and I can’t say I blame fans for choosing other ways to spend the weekend.

The Return of the Worldwide Leader in Sports

And finally next week, the Brickyard 400 will mark the return of ESPN the self-styled worldwide leader in sports after a six race stretch with TNT. While there are those who will carp on about the errors made by the TNT team this past month and a half, I always very much enjoy the interlude between the bombastic broadcasting monoliths of FOX and ESPN. The wide open coverage at Daytona, Race Buddy and a desire to report on the stories that occur on track (and not the ones decided in the pre-race production meetings) are just a few examples of why I think TNT broadcasts NASCAR better than anyone else. Still, at least we get the dulcet tones of Dale Jarrett to smooth over the rough edges. Eh. Can’t say I’m stoked, but I’ll still be watching.

Contact Danny Peters

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Today on the Frontstretch:
Championship Caliber? What Does That Even Mean?
Mirror Driving: Winning Vs. Points, Needing a Boost, and The Lady’s Last Dance?
Nuts for Nationwide: The Curious Case of Elliott Sadler
Happiness Is…Arrogance, Less, Next, and the Outdoors
Frontstretch Foto Funnies: It’s Not Gonna Fit…


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Stephen HOOD
07/19/2011 07:40 AM

Other than the famous track, what is the point of going to the Brickyard 500. The racing is not compelling there and it’s hot as hell in July. I’d forgive the tire debacle, but in my opinion the racing at Indy is the most tedious of the season. So, I’ll be taking two weekends of from NASCAR.

Carl D.
07/19/2011 08:58 AM

Personally, I hope the numbers for the Brickyard 400 drop even further. It’s probably the worst race on the schedule, and that’s when the tires hold up. It’s the only track I’d settle for replacing with a cookie-cutter. It’s that bad.

Of course it’s an accomplishment that Kyle Busch has won 100 races, especially those 78 wins in the CWT and Nationwide series. Even shooting fish in a barrel requires a good eye and a steady aim.

john hickson
07/19/2011 11:28 AM

so now im churlish and dissenting for doing what has always been done…counting CUP wins. go to Darryl Waltrip or Dale Earnhardts wikipedia for example and see how many wins are listed. and while you’re at it look up how many wins and championships Richie Evans has,is he the new king?

07/19/2011 11:47 AM

If Dale Jr. had won 100 of anything, we’d be so sick of hearing about it… well he hasn’t won much of anything and I am sick of reading about what he is or isn’t doing.

07/19/2011 12:56 PM

The “statistic” is very overhyped. To play devil’s advocate though–while Petty’s 200 wins were all at the Cup level, they all came during an era when only 5-6-7 cars in the field were capable of winning on any given Sunday. Compare that to the modern Cup field where 30 could win.

Having said that, MOST of Kyle’s wins are in Nationwide and Truck, where he has, at best, 2-3 others capable of beating him when he shows up. Racing either with a Cup team (in NWS) or a pseudo-Cup team (in Trucks), those wins aren’t even remotely close to what Richard Petty accomplished.

This is NASCAR’s halfassed attempt to find SOMETHING interesting to talk about over the last few years, and it’s failing.

Don Mei
07/19/2011 01:39 PM

Last minute change to the road course at Indy might make it worth watching; otherwise a good day for a ride on the XR.

07/19/2011 01:43 PM

Happy for the week off before the worldwide sneerer of NASCAR takes over the race broadcasts.

Although I give Kyle credit for winning in all the series, no one else ever had all their wins together for a cumulative win total.

Sorry, they are 3 different series, they get counted in 3 different places.

I probably will watch very little of ESPN’s coverage. Marty Reid isn’t all that good at PXP since he knows very little about NASCAR, listening to Rusty talk about hot rods and Brad talk about nothing, well, I can skip all that and watch the last 20 laps to find out the winner and not have to put myself thru the pain. Going to really miss TNT and racebuddy esp.

Carl D.
07/19/2011 01:56 PM


Ditto on Marty and Rusty, but I like Brad Daugherty. He’s usually pretty informed; you can tell he’s done his homework. Also, his enthusiasm for the sport is obvious. Not bad for a roundball guy.

07/19/2011 04:30 PM

I went to the Brickyard 400 the first few years when it was the “in” thing to do. However, single file racing along with the ability to see little more than half the track soon got tedious and I dropped my tickets.

07/19/2011 05:17 PM

Oh goodie…

Nascar on BSPN…the worldwide BLEEDER of sports.

Now I….REALLY want to watch.

Doug in Washington (State)
07/19/2011 05:28 PM

Remember too, though, that many of Petty’s wins came in seasons 50+ races long, with as many as 3 races a week. Many races were very short, dirt track races. Aside from the dirt, not so different than the 3 series now.

07/19/2011 06:36 PM

Kyle Busch = GOAT

Big Donkey
07/19/2011 08:01 PM

RC is the GOAT. This moniker is only able to be used one time. It is not transferable to anyone else, ever.
That being said, Kyle Busch may look like a goat, but that does not make him one.

07/19/2011 08:52 PM

just to set Danny P. straight, my Brickyard tickets went up $10 each this year.

The Don
07/19/2011 09:01 PM

I just do not get it. The Cup wins are the “major league” standard. Period. As for more races during the early years: STOCK engines,STOCK suspensions, STOCK cars. Let’s see how many cars last today with stock parts. 30 cars capable of winning weekly? Hardly. They may have a chance, but this is a unique year. Most years, 6-8 have a chance/

07/19/2011 10:34 PM

Wake me up when Kyle has 100 CUP WINS. It’ll have to be a seance if it ever happens.

07/20/2011 07:57 AM

You Busch haters really need to get a new hobby. It’s always the same old, whiny, tirades. Though I guess you need something to flap your gums about since Jr. boy isn’t doing squat.

07/20/2011 11:57 AM

Keep racking up those wins Kyle. We love it. Most of the HATERS don’t know talent when they see it.

Bill S
07/20/2011 12:00 PM

Kyle Busch deserves kudos and universal congratulations on his accomplishment of winning 100 races across the 3 NASCAR national series. Anyone who follows the sport knows how difficult it is to win one race at that level; for Kyle to have won 100 by age 26 is an accomplishment that simply stands on its own and requires no “ifs, ands or buts” about it. He has had this as a stated goal for some time, yet in all that time, I have NEVER heard him say that accomplishing his goal would be a greater feat than anything Richard Petty, Kyle Petty or Dale Snodgrass Jr. has ever accomplished.

All the comparisons with other records have come from commentators who are apparently attaching more significance to this record than Kyle is himself. It appears that Kyle’s relentless winning machine has scared the bejeesus out of many of his critics who are afraid their own accomplishments or those of their daddy will suffer by comparison.

That has never been true. Comparing athletic accomplishments across generations is virtually impossible because there are simply too many variables. Changes in quantity and quality of competition, number of races run, changes in equipment, rules, schedules, training methods, manufacturer support, engineering expertise, the points system, the Chase, the tracks where races are held. There are simply too many variables to solve this equation – even if you run off to wikipedia to get your answer.

While one might compare Richard’s record with David Pearson’s and build a case for either man as the better driver, there are simply too many variables to compare Kyle at 26 to Richard at any point in his career.

Furthermore, Kyle Petty really need not fear the boogey-man is out to get his dad – Kyle’s rate of wins will decrease as his participation in NW and trucks decreases. Scarily, however, his rate of Cup wins and eventual Cup championships may more than make up for it.

Give the man his due – no one has come close to what he has accomplished. And this record also has nothing to do with Richard’s records.

Chill out haters. Kyle is racing in NEITHER NW or trucks this weekend. It is safe to go into the water – or turn on the TV. And with any luck, we won’t see or hear any more from Kyle The Lesser Petty for nearly a year!

07/20/2011 12:34 PM

Guess I won’t be watching any na$car this weekend then, if Kyle is not running.

Wiki what?? Anyone that uses that for a reference,invalidates their opinion immediately

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