By admin | August 29, 2010
By Richard Allen
Kyle Buschâ€™s Camping World Truck Series win on Friday night at the Chicagoland Speedway was the 79th of his career in NASCARâ€™s top three divisions combined. Thatâ€™s a pretty lofty total, especially considering he only turned 25 years old this past May.
However, in the grand scheme of things, where does Buschâ€™s win total rank?
As a racing purest of sorts, I have never considered wins by NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers in the truck series or the Nationwide Series to be particularly special. That said, however, even I have to admit that in todayâ€™s racing climate, drivers competing in the two lesser seriesâ€™ is just a fact of life. And, when Busch wins those races he is often beating drivers like himself, not inferior competition in inferior equipment.
So, even someone like myself who would rather not have Cup drivers in the â€˜minor leaguesâ€™ has to give Busch or any other driver of his kind a certain degree of credit for beating the best of competition, even if it is in a series of less than the highest standing.
Busch said last year that he has set a goal for himself of winning 200 total races in NASCARâ€™s top three divisions. He is nearing the halfway mark of that goal with seemingly many years to go.
But whether he reaches that goal or not, where does this talented Las Vegas native rank among his peers?
Busch has won 19 Sprint Cup races in 210 starts. Just to put that in perspective, Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth, Greg Biffle, Ryan Newman and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. have each won fewer Cup races than Busch with significantly more starts.
To add a bit more perspective to Buschâ€™s Sprint Cup victory totals, Jeff Gordon had also won 19 races at age 25. Dale Earnhardt, Sr. had only started three Cup races by age 25. The bottom line to that information is that there could be many more wins yet to go for this young star.
As far as making comparisons to other drivers competing in all thee classes goes, there are not too many to put Busch up against. Perhaps the two best counterparts in all divisions for him would be Carl Edwards and Kevin Harvick.
Edwardsâ€™ numbers in the Sprint Cup Series and the Nationwide Series are relatively close to those of Busch. It is in the trucks, where Edwards has not competed on a regular basis since 2004, that Busch builds a margin over the Missouri driver.
Like Edwards, Harvickâ€™s totals are not so far off of those compiled by Busch in the Cup and Nationwide Seriesâ€™. It is the truck series that has allowed Busch to separate from Harvick in combined wins. It must also be noted that Harvick is almost ten years older than Busch, and thus, has fewer potential starts ahead of him.
Edwards has 49 combined victories while Harvick has 59.
So, are Kyle Buschâ€™s win totals that impressive in the grand scheme of things? It would seem as though the answer in modern day NASCAR has to be yes. He wins more races at every level than do his current competitors, and at a younger age.
However, there are many Cup wins and multiple championships that have to be earned before he can be mentioned along with the likes of Petty, Gordon and Earnhardt in the NASCAR history books. Even in modern day NASCAR, it is still the top division that matters most.
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Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly columns appear in The Mountain Press and The Knoxville Journal.
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