By admin | April 29, 2008
Two wins for Busch, Two years for Junior
By Richard Allen
Whether fair or unfair, due to the situation that played out during the 2007 “Silly Season” comparisons between Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Kyle Busch are inevitable.
At about the midpoint of last year it was announced that Earnhardt would be leaving Dale Earnhardt, Inc. to drive for Hendrick Motorsports. With the four cars per team limit approaching it was assumed he would be taking the place of one of the four Hendrick drivers already in that fold. Shortly thereafter it was learned Kyle Busch would be the odd man out at HMS.
As it turns out, both of the drivers in question are having fine seasons in 2008. As a matter of fact both are doing better than they were at this point last year which would indicate that both have benefited from their respective moves.
At this time last year, Earnhardt was 13th in the overall standings. He had 0 wins, 1 Top 5 and 3 Top 10 finishes. This year, he still has 0 wins but has 3 Top 5 and an impressive 7 Top 10 results.
Along that same line, last year Busch had 1 win, 2 Top 5 and 5 Top 10 finishes. This season, he has already garnered 2 wins to go along with 5 Top 5 and 6 Top 10 placements.
Another comparison that could be made is how each driver is currently faring against his former team. In Junior’s case that is somewhat complicated by the fact that his old #8 ride is driven by two different drivers, Mark Martin and Aric Almirola. Combined those two have accomplished 0 wins, 1 Top 5 and 4 Top 10 runs. That team is 17th in the owner’s point standings while Junior has his team in 3rd overall. Based on the statistical comparison between the two teams it would appear as though Junior made the right choice by moving.
Also, Kyle Busch is doing better than his former team. After nine races this year the car driven by Casey Mears is not doing well. The #5 team has 0 wins, 0 Top 5s and only 2 Top 10s. That team is mired in 25th in points as opposed to the 2nd place Busch and his Joe Gibbs Racing team occupy. Just like Earnhardt, it would appear as though Busch is in a better situation than the one he left behind.
However, it is not comparisons versus last year or comparisons versus old teams that people will make when discussing these two drivers. Since Earnhardt replaced Busch the comparison made most often will be that of Busch vs. Earnhardt as they stand right now.
As was said earlier, both are having fine seasons. Both have improved their lot in life. However, Kyle Busch has two wins this season while Dale Earnhardt, Jr. has none.
As a matter of fact this weekend marks the second anniversary of Junior’s last win. Despite the fact that he is having a good, solid year, the longer he goes without winning the louder and more frequently the question of “When will he win?” be asked. And, the more Kyle Busch wins in the meantime, the louder and more frequently will the inevitable comparisons be made.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.
Topics: Articles |