(Photo: Rick Lunkenheimer)

NASCAR 101: Cup Invaders on the Truck & Xfinity Levels

Kyle Busch has a bounty over his head. We all know that.

We know that Kevin Harvick stirred this pot. We now know who the first driver is to take Harvick up on said bounty, followed by Kyle Larson.

We also know that Busch continues to whip the Truck Series competition.

What you may not know is, nearly 70 others have followed the same path.

In fact, 68 drivers have won either a NASCAR Xfinity Series race or a NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series race while competing full time in the NASCAR Cup Series. While not all of these drivers may have shown such dominance in a single event, that are still plenty of opinions that boil over when a Cup driver enters an undercard race and wins.

These opinions are debated, even in today’s era of professional racing. No matter the positive or negative spin these opinions take, it’s worth noting that all the clamor around this debate shows how good the top drivers in stock car racing really are.

Of the aforementioned 68 drivers, Busch has obviously the most combined NXS and Truck wins with 153. Did I mention how good these drivers are? But only five (2.67%) of those 153 victories came when Busch was not running full time in Cup. While he may have stolen 148 victories, as some people might put it, there have plenty of others who should not be left out.

Mark Martin won 56 combined times in NXS and Trucks, but only four (7.14%) of them came when Martin was not a Cup driver. Let’s also take the man who issued the bounty. Only 4.91% of Harvick’s NXS and Truck wins came before he became a full-timer in 2001.

Busch and Harvick are among 17 active Cup drivers who have invaded the two lower national series and won. That’s nearly half of a normal Cup field today, including all four Joe Gibbs Racing drivers, three of the four Stewart-Haas Racing drivers and the three Team Penske drivers.

However, some didn’t quite follow the trend. Although he did win some as a full-time Cup competitor, only nine of Dale Earnhardt Jr.‘s 24 NXS wins came after he joined the Cup Series in 2000. While Earnhardt’s winning percentage may have been against the norm, we don’t have to look far to see the pattern once again.

Dale Earnhardt’s 21 NXS victories all came when he was on the top step of NASCAR racing. The elder Earnhardt even won the first-ever official NXS race as a Cup invader.

However, the large Cup rookie class today may be different though. Christopher Bell has 16 NXS wins, all of which came before he moved to Cup. Tyler Reddick and Cole Custer are in the same boat with nine NXS wins apiece. This trio had been rapidly ascending up the all-time Xfinity wins list without the aid or distraction of being a so-called invader.

They now all have Cup rides, and they don’t have any undercard races planned anywhere on the horizon. How did they get these rides? Well, they obviously had to prove their talents in the lower series, and if history shows us anything, these lower series are hotbeds for Cup talent to chase low hanging fruit.

Yet Bell, Reddick and Custer managed to rise above the distractions of the big guns, outrun them and proved they could get a shot at the top level of auto racing. Maybe this recent example shows how good one must be to actually make it to the top. Once you’re there, you clinched greatness and that can allow you the freedom to chase wins in other series, as Busch has discovered.

Here is a complete list of the most NXS and Truck wins by a driver who was an active full-time Cup driver at the same time:

DriverTotal NXS wins as a full-time Cup driver
Kyle Busch91
Mark Martin45
Kevin Harvick44
Carl Edwards38
Brad Keselowski34
Joey Logano29
Jeff Burton23
Matt Kenseth22
Harry Gant21
Dale Earnhardt21
 Denny Hamlin17
 Joe Nemechek14
 Kyle Larson12
 Greg Biffle11
 Morgan Shepherd11
 Tony Stewart11
 Michael Waltrip11
Terry Labonte11
 Jimmy Spencer 10
 Dale Earnhardt Jr.9
 Dale Jarrett9
Austin Dillon7
 Kasey Kahne7
 Clint Bowyer6
 Jamie McMurray 6
 Ryan Newman 6
 Bobby Labonte5
 Geoff Bodine5
 Todd Bodine 4
Marcos Ambrose4
 Kurt Busch4
 Erik Jones3
 Ryan Blaney3
 Ernie Irvan3
Jeff Green2
 Steve Grissom2
Jeff Gordon2
Aric Almirola2
Paul Menard2
 David Ragan2
 Rick Wilson2
 Dick Trickle2
 Bobby Allison2
 Bobby Hillin Jr2
 Tim Richmond2
 Ron Bouchard2
 Ken Schrader2
Darrell Waltrip2
 Martin Truex Jr1
 Kenny Wallace1
 Regan Smith1
 Reed Sorenson1
 Chase Elliott1
 Sterling Marlin1
 Michael McDowell1
 Joe Ruttman1
 Casey Mears1
 Mike Skinner1
 Neil Bonnett1
 Juan Pablo Montoya1
 Ricky Rudd1
Derrike Cope1
 Dave Blaney1
 Bill Elliott1
 Robby Gordon1

 

DriverTotal NGROTS wins as a full-time NCS driver
Kyle Busch57
Kevin Harvick14
Mark Martin7
 Kasey Kahne5
Clint Bowyer3
 Denny Hamlin2
 Tony Stewart2
 Austin Dillon2
Bobby Hamilton2
Brad Keselowski1
Elliott Sadler1
 Kyle Larson1
 Jimmy Spencer1
 Terry Labonte1
 Bobby Labonte1
Jamie McMurray1
 Ryan Newman1
 Chase Elliott1
 Ken Schrader1
 Joey Logano1
Support Frontstretch on Patreon

About Zach Gillispie

Zach Gillispie
A lifelong race fan, Zach Gillispie joined Frontstretch in the summer of 2018 as a news writer. Originally from Charlotte, NC, he resides in western PA with his family. Zach currently attends Grove City College, pursuing a degree in Communication Arts. In the rare moments when he is not working or studying, you can find him involved in his church, traveling, cheering on his beloved Atlanta Braves, or immersing himself in anything that involves racecars of any form. Follow Zach on Twitter @gillispie_zach

Check Also

Frontstretch Podcast: iRacing Shenanigans, Tyler Reddick Talks Rookie Season

In this week’s edition of the Frontstretch Podcast, Dustin Albino and Mike Neff discuss Sunday’s iRacing Pro Invitational Series …