Home / Cup Series / 200 & Counting: Kyle Busch Ties Richard Petty, Dominates Auto Club 400
(Photo: Nigel Kinrade Photography)

200 & Counting: Kyle Busch Ties Richard Petty, Dominates Auto Club 400

Kyle Busch and Richard Petty are from two different NASCAR eras. Their accomplishments can be awkward to compare. But after Sunday’s (March 17) Auto Club 400, they now stand alone as the only drivers with 200 career victories in the sport’s top three series.

Busch reached the milestone with a dominant Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory, charging back from a pit road speeding penalty to win by nearly three seconds over Joey Logano. Busch out front was a rocket ship in clean air, his car near impossible to pass on a day his No. 18 Toyota had the field covered.

“Man, that was such an awesome race car,” Busch said afterward after emerging from his green Interstate Batteries Toyota. “It takes green to get in Victory Lane today. It’s Saint Patty’s Day, so all these other guys were at a disadvantage, we know that.”

Whatever the reason, Busch had superior speed from almost the drop of the green flag. Not even a pit road speeding penalty after the second stage would stop him. Busch got pushed back to 21st from the lead for the ensuing restart with 80 laps to go.

By the time the next round of pit stops came, he jumped to fifth. Then, a pit strategy call by crew chief Adam Stevens to stay out played into Busch’s hands when the final caution flag of the day waved for a blown tire from Bubba Wallace.

Busch, the only lead car who hadn’t pitted, got his edge back. He restarted near the front with the freshest tires on lap 169; he was back in front by lap 175. From there, it was smooth sailing the rest of the way.

“Sometimes, you need a little bit of luck on your side,” he said. “It certainly is a monumental moment for all of us. Maybe the stars aligned a little more perfectly today.”

Busch now ties the sport’s King, Petty, with a 200 mark that most felt was virtually untouchable. Of course, only 53 of those victories have come at the Cup level, causing debate as the record approached.

But Petty praised Busch this week while reminding observers Busch’s competition isn’t as strong in NASCAR’s feeder series. Others, including older brother Kurt Busch, were quick to congratulate and honor an accomplishment that remains special in its own way.

“A number is a number and it’s significant,” Kurt Busch said. “When you’re running Trucks, Xfinity and Cup every week, you’re wearing your body out. He just keeps going and going and I’m proud of him.”

In all, Busch led seven times for a race-high 134 laps. He’s collected 14 playoff points already in just five races, jumping a level above the Team Penske cars who chased him Sunday.

“We hung strong,” Logano said. “Just didn’t have nothing for that green car.”

“We were a little off all day,” added third-place Brad Keselowski. “Just never could get off turn 2, that cost us the race. Couldn’t stay in front.”

Kevin Harvick wound up in fourth while Ryan Blaney gave Team Penske three top-five finishers. Kurt Busch was the highest-performing Chevrolet in sixth followed by Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr., Aric Almirola and pole-sitter Austin Dillon.

It was a clean race with only Clint Bowyer ended the day in the garage with a blown engine. NASCAR’s new handling package again produced mixed results; solid racing mid-pack also came paired with single-file action up front.

AUTO CLUB 400 UNOFFICIAL RESULTS

NASCAR ends its west coast swing, then with Busch winning five of the seven races run. He earned two Cup victories (Phoenix, Auto Club), two Xfinity wins (Las Vegas, Phoenix) and one in the Truck Series (Las Vegas).

And if not for an untimely penalty the first west coast weekend? That number could have even been higher.

“Could you imagine if I won Vegas?” he said after the checkered flag. “How many wins in a row…”

Now, he’ll simply have to settle for a shot at win 201 next week at Martinsville Speedway.

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About Tom Bowles

Tom Bowles
The author of Bowles-Eye View (Mondays) and Did You Notice? (Wednesdays) Tom spends his time overseeing Frontstretch’s 30 staff members as its majority owner. Based in Philadelphia, Bowles is a two-time Emmy winner in NASCAR television and has worked in racing production with FOX, TNT, and ESPN while appearing on-air for SIRIUS XM Radio and FOX Sports 1's former show, the Crowd Goes Wild.

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16 comments

  1. Avatar

    1968 NASCAR POINT STANDINGS
    PEARSON 16 wins. 1st in points
    ISSAAC. 3 wins. 2nd in points
    PETTY 16 wins 3rd in points
    4th thru 10th an assortment of crap wagons who won no races that season

  2. Avatar

    Wow!
    Now Kyle is only 30 Cup wins behind Jimmie Johnson!
    And only 40 behind Jeff Gordon!

  3. Avatar

    Ties Richard Petty, really? I realize you are young and may still live in mommy’s basement, but Petty’s 200 are all legitimate Cup wins. Now, I’m sure you are going to point to the number of races, yes, there were more. He drove the same car and worked on it. It was a heavy sedan BUT Richard Petty won seven Daytona 500s, along with other races. The Coke 600 started at noon, no air conditioning; the Southern 500 at Noon on Labor Day. Again, heavy sedans with no air conditioning and power steering. Petty also drove at Rockingham, 500 miles; Poccono, 500 miles; Dover, 500 miles.
    In 1965, Chrysler boycotted NASCAR over the Hemi engine. So Petty sat out. That was entering his prime. He more than likely would have won 10 more races.
    And, the competition: let’s see, in 1967 Ford sent Mario Andretti, AJ Foyt, Gordon Johncock, and others to try to stop him. I’m sure David Pearson, Cale Yarborough, Darrell Waltrip, Bobby Allison, and others were just pushovers.
    200, really.
    Go back to Mommy’s basement.

  4. Avatar

    Kyle’s 200 wins is an accomplishment but is not the same as Petty’s and it is tainted in my eyes as many of his wins are in the Xfinity & Truck Series where the competition is not the same. Also, what championships has he won? An Xfinity championship in a season where he had been a full time Cup driver for four plus seasons with basically a Cup team? TAINTED. A Cup championship where he didn’t even race the first 11 races of the year? TAINTED.
    Yes, Richard Petty had a big sponsor and factory backing for a lot of his wins. He also had a lot of wins in cars without power steering, power brakes and all of the “conviences” of today’s race cars. Also, how did he get to most races, probably by driving, not in a jet. And I’m sure he has wrenched on a car or two.

    • Avatar

      He also raced in events where there were 11-15 other entrants. One win at Bowman Gray the field was so small they allowed VWs and MGs in the event. Ran lots of 1/4 mile dirt shows in places like Stone Chimney Virginia. Many starts he was the only factory backed car against the likes of local hot shoe Hooter Carter in the Pops Rootbeer special. Petty was my first racing hero but let’s deal in facts

  5. Avatar

    Anybody else, it would be cause for celebration. For shrub? an empty number. In order to be a champion anything, You need the majority behind you – which this joke does not have, and never will thanks to his arrogant, disdainful attitude to those who feed him – namely the fans. You got your “200” now, retire like you promised and get out of our life…

  6. Avatar

    Now hold on just a minute. According to the Racing Reference website, Richard Petty won 1 NASCAR Convertible Series race in 1959 and 3 NASCAR K&N Pro Series West races from 1978-1981. So, if we’re adding all of Kyle’s NASCAR wins up across series… why aren’t we adding up Richard’s? I’d say that puts Richard at 204 NASCAR wins so, Kyle needs 4 more wins to tie Richard. There, I just gave the NASCAR talking heads something else to hype. You can all thank me later.

  7. Avatar

    media will have something else to focus and harp on now….i guess everything will be “when will he get 201 win”.

  8. Avatar

    Bubba should be on Kyle and Sam’s Christmas car d list for a looooooooonnnnnng time. Maybe by then we won’t be writing about 200.

  9. Avatar

    He will be in the Petty league etc. when he has 200 wins in Cup. How embarrassing this whole BS is.

  10. Avatar

    Does Mark Martin have 40 or 89 wins? He has 40. KB doesn’t have 200.

    • Avatar

      But..but NASCAR and the media say it is so!

    • Avatar

      If all wins count, then Martin has 89 wins, Gordon actually has 98 wins and Dale Jr has 50 wins. DW’s win total would be boosted, as well, as he won some “Busch” races, too. KB is right, what an embarrassment and complete BS. They must be looking for something to write about other than that the new rules haven’t done a damn thing to help the on track “product”.

  11. Avatar

    Thank God.
    Congratulations Kyle.
    Can we move on now and talk about something else.

    • Avatar

      No, its not over (LOL)….read Tom’s last sentence. “Something else” is 201 and on… All hail the Scrub!