The Frontstretch: Kyle Busch: Back On Track To 200 Wins? by Tommy Thompson -- Thursday June 11, 2009

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Kyle Busch: Back On Track To 200 Wins?

Thompson In Turn 5 · Tommy Thompson · Thursday June 11, 2009

 

Kyle Busch’s guitar-smashing antics in Victory Lane following his NASCAR Nationwide Series win at Nashville Superspeedway seems to have captured the lion’s share of attention after a busy and newsworthy weekend of NASCAR racing. In fact, his questionable victory celebration overshadowed even the fact that the Federated Auto Parts 300 win was Busch’s 51st NASCAR victory – a number that has him now over a quarter of the way to his goal of 200 NASCAR wins.

In case you missed it, after his Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series wins at Richmond International Raceway early last month, the younger of the two racing Busch brothers repeated that he has set a personal goal of 200 NASCAR career wins before it is time to hang up his helmet bag. The Saturday night Sprint Cup win was accomplished on his 24th birthday, making his 15 victories in that division the most for any driver under the age of 25 in the history of NASCAR. Since that win, there have been a few near misses that have evaporated due to a number of unforeseen difficulties when the race outcome had seemed a forgone conclusion. But Nashville put Busch back on the winning track — and perhaps right on course towards a lofty achievement.

The Las Vegas, Nevada native first spoke last year of his 200-win goal, and repeated it again last month when asked if he thought the goal was still be reached. “It could if I can keep this pace up,” he said. “But I know the older I get, I’ll start slowing down some way. You know, hopefully I can achieve that goal. It would be sure nice to get that. I know it’s not 200 Cup victories like Richard Petty has. It will still be a phenomenal mark for me.”

To be clear, the goal Busch has set for himself includes victories in all of NASCAR’s top three divisions – Sprint, Nationwide, and the Camping World Truck Series. Of course, “King” Richard Petty scored his record 200 victories exclusively in what today is known as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Not only is Busch the youngest driver to reach 15 victories in NASCAR’s elite division, but also is the youngest driver to have won a race in the series.

Kyle Busch has set a lofty goal of 200 career combined wins in the top three NASCAR series.

Now, it is doubtful that Busch has any idea at his young age just how much he will slow down as Father Time marches alongside him through his career. But if Busch truly has the desire and wherewithal to pursue his stated mission, he could accomplish it while there is still plenty of fuel in his tank. An average of 10 wins per year spread out among the three divisions would suffice to have him at the coveted 200-win mark before his 40th birthday. Even a less ambitious yearly winning average could still see Kyle at the 200 career wins total by his mid-40’s.

In comparison, Petty posted some truly gaudy win totals in the ’60s and ’70s. Notable were the years of 1967 (27 wins), 1970 (18 wins) and 1971 (21 wins). Though Petty, who began his driving career when he was 21 years old, raced for 35 years, there were 13 of them in which he posted goose eggs in the win column and another seven years of three or less wins. So, the numbers suggest that Busch would not need to race into his mid-50’s as Petty did to reach 200.

It is apparent from Kyle’s statement that he knows that such an accomplishment would not be viewed on par with Richard Petty’s numbers simply because the wins were not all recorded in the Cup Series. However, given the competition level during Petty’s heyday and the tough competition faced in any of the three divisions of NASCAR today, there may be an argument that even with crossing over to the other series, Busch will all-and-all face as stiff, if not stiffer competition. Considering the number of well-funded, full-time Nationwide Series and large number of Cup drivers the compete in that series, it may be every bit equal to the type of field that Petty — with his heavily factory-supported team and one of the few nationally recognized sponsors on the circuit — competed against.

What is beyond debate is that today’s Cup racing is very, very different from the days when Richard Petty was dusting the competition. Today there are at least 20 drivers that can win, largely due to the mega-team owners on any given race weekend. The parity in today’s Cup Series is a far cry from the day when drivers could skip events and still win championships.

Critics of Busch will point out that his equipment, especially since moving to Joe Gibbs Racing, has been top-notch as well. That is true, for Kyle Busch to pull off 200 wins he will need equipment capable of carrying him to victory lane. But he seems to always find what he needs to run up front — even outside of the mighty Gibbs garage. Included in his 21 wins last season were wins driving for Braun Racing and two different JGR entrants, the Nos. 18 and 20.

Also included in Busch’s 51 wins are 11 victories in the Camping World Truck Series — a rough and tumble division of former Cup drivers, longtime truck campaigners, and young developmental drivers. It’s a tough series to win in… but not for Busch. All of his success in the series has come behind the wheel of the No. 51 for Billy Ballew Motorsports — rarely a winning truck team except when Kyle makes one of his limited appearances.

Perhaps the key to whether Busch has the grit and desire to achieve his 200-win goal can best be found in his participation in that series. Kyle Busch drives the No. 51 Toyota for his friend Billy Ballew for no pay — just to compete and help out an owner that helped him early in his career. It’s that kind of commitment that he will need to make his dream a reality.

But I digress. Right now, it is a shame that Busch continues to become embroiled in superfluous and distracting activities such as he did last weekend. It isn’t necessary for him to gain fame and notoriety any other way than by doing what he does best…driving race cars.

Let’s not forget, the young man has set some lofty expectations that are, due to his phenomenal skills, very, very achievable. He can win, win, and win again; and if he doesn’t self-destruct one day, become the only driver besides Richard Petty to have 200 NASCAR victories to his credit.

Would those 200 wins be as significant as The King’s? Maybe, maybe not — but that’s still a lot of wins against some pretty good racers.

And…that’s my view from Turn 5.

Contact Tommy Thompson

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MJR in Springfield VA
06/11/2009 07:14 AM
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Kyle Busch MAY be the most talented driver to come along in quite some time. But he IS, without a doubt, a self-center, arrogant, egotistical jackass. Quite honestly, if he never wins another race in his life time, that would be just fine with me.

dawg
06/11/2009 08:14 AM
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Why pray tell is 200 total wins a big deal? How many total wins do you think Tiger could pile up if he were to play the Nationwide tour as well as the top PGA? How many home runs could a slugger rack up if he were to play in minor league games, even jetting around the country to get them in? 200 cup wins is a very big deal. It’s still a big deal if you throw in a few Convertible series wins. It is however somewhat tainted when one of them was with an illegal engine, but that’s another story. I’m sorry, I just don’t see 200 wins, with 30 or so Cup wins over a career as being worth this much attention. One would think , howeaver that with that many potential wins in NA$CAR’s minor leagues. He’d have enough trophies that he apparently doesn’t value that highly. To be able to give one to each crew member, in tact. I wonder how long before splinters of the Nashville trophy begin showing up on e-bay?

Gordon82Wins
06/11/2009 10:16 AM
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If Johnny Benson drove a Truck for free to pay back someone who helped him out, all of Kyle Busch’s anti-fans would be demanding his sainthood.

And, uh, yeah, 200 wins would be worthy of some attention—seeing as how only one other driver has done it. I’ a big fan of the King, but he wouldn’t have won 200 in today’s climate.

johhnyo
06/11/2009 10:53 AM
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200 wins my butt, you media people start hiping this crap and oh he can win 200 races, duh do you understand the diffience between truck nationwide and real racing, good god you are big of moron as that idiot is!!!!

Marilyn
06/11/2009 11:42 AM
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Tommy T: Could you answer this question for me please? It has been said for years that Joe Gibbs has been a great coach and helped a lot of players out of trouble. He was supposed to be the best at helping mold great men. Since he is “Gibbs Racing”, where is his leadership with KYLE? Out to lunch maybe?? Why would you want such an embarrassment working for you. It is something everytime he races. What other owner would allow their driver to stop on the track get out and the team have to bring the car back in??Does he not care his whole race team is a laughing stock of the racing industry? Inquiring minds want to know.

Darcie Edwards
06/11/2009 11:53 AM
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I really wish the media would stop talking about Busch having 200 victories. Big Deal !! When he starts getting close to 200 CUP victories, then we can talk. But talking about a combined 200 victories in the watered down Truck series and a less than competitive Nationwide series does not a record setting accomplishment make. He has what, 15 Cup wins? He has a long way to go to get to King Richard Petty.

P on U
06/11/2009 12:30 PM
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In the great works for Cartman: “God I hate you Kyle.”

Him racing in the lesser series with his cup crew and $10 million dollar oil is like showing up to a knife fight with an automatic weapon! But I guess he has talent! No wonder why he gets so pi$$ed of when he doesn’t win…. because he looks like a jack a$$!!! LOL!! Keep the “talent” up Cryall!

wcfan
06/11/2009 01:47 PM
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How many of you realize Many of the King’s wins were of the 100 lap/mile variety (more like the Busch or Trucks) not the 400+ lap/mile of the Cup Series since Winston took it over in the early 70’s. Also in the 50’s and 60’s many of the big drivers did not race every race as they do now. The King also had a BIG MONEY sponser while many of the teams he was beating were low dollar teams (sounds a little like the Cup guys playing in the Busch and Trucks doesn’t)

Tom
06/11/2009 01:51 PM
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I wish Kyle the best of luck in his quest….of course, unless he figures out how to win when it counts, such as during the Chase, he’ll only be remembered as another driver who couldn’t get it done!

Matt
06/11/2009 07:34 PM
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Stop saying that 200 wins doesnt mean anything people. Busch even said himself that 200 wins across the series would not be the same as the Kings 200 wins, but what is wrong with having that as a career goal. Are you just mad that Dale Jr. has no such desire? You guys seem to forget that when Petty was winning all those races, they raced cup races sometimes more than once a week, and he was one of the only racers with a full sponsorship deal. If you want my opinion, and there is actual data to back it up, Pearson was better than Petty anyway. More than half the wins, in less than half the starts of Petty.

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