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« 20th place finish could be big for Stewart | Main | Chicago run sums up season for Kenseth »

Kyle Busch having historic season

By admin | July 16, 2008

By Richard Allen

 

Kyle Busch captured yet another checkered flag this past Saturday night with his win in the LifeLock.com 400 at the Chicagoland Speedway. This was his seventh win in the 19 races held thus far in the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup season.

Busch’s season has the potential to be an historic one on a variety of levels. For the sake of comparison I have chosen outstanding seasons put together by two other drivers in the modern era, the time since 1972, to hold up against Busch’s 2008 campaign.

In 1985 Bill Elliott had one of the most electrifying seasons any NASCAR driver has ever had. He won a total of 11 races in only 28 starts. He also won The Winston Million, a program put together by R.J Reynolds Tobacco Company to reward any driver who could win three of the four biggest races in one year. Elliott won in Daytona, Talladega and Darlington to capture the $1 million bonus.

However, one thing Elliott did not do was win the season championship that year. Darrell Waltrip used consistency and a late season charge to beat Elliott out of the overall title.

To compare Elliott’s 1985 season against Busch in 2008, Elliott had won nine of the first 19 races held that year. So, to this point, Elliott in 1985 was a bit ahead of Busch in 2008.

The other driver I have chosen to compare against Busch is Jeff Gordon in 1998. That year, Gordon won thirteen of 33 races. And, unlike Elliott, he went on to capture the season title. Gordon’s biggest wins that season were the Coca-Cola 600 in Charlotte and the Brickyard 400 in Indianapolis.

Up to the 19th race of the season that year Gordon had won six times. Busch in 2008 is slightly ahead of the victory pace Gordon set in 1998 through this point.

Only time will tell whether Busch’s 2008 ends like Elliott in 1985 without a season title, or with a championship like Gordon in 1998.

Neither Elliott nor Gordon had to deal with the Chase for the Championship. What may well be a huge lead for Busch will essentially be erased after the 26th race in Richmond. For what it is worth, both the 1985 and 1998 seasons would have produced the same champions whether the old point system or the current Chase format had been used.

Here, however, is where the season being conducted by Kyle Busch takes a step towards the historic that neither Elliott nor Gordon can match. To go along with his seven Sprint Cup Series wins this year Busch has added four Nationwide Series wins and two Craftsman Truck Series victories.

In 1985, Elliott did not even compete in what was then called the Busch Series. The Craftsman Truck series was not even created until 1995. Elliott has only one win over the course of his career in the Nationwide Series.

In 1998, Gordon did not compete in the Busch Series. During his career he has won five times in that series. He has never started a Crafstman Truck Series race.

So far, Busch has visited victory lane a total of 13 times in 2008. No matter what happens from here on he has already broken historic ground in some ways. It remains to be seen just how historic this season will ultimately be.

Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.

Topics: Articles |

10 Responses to “Kyle Busch having historic season”

  1. Larry Says:
    July 17th, 2008 at 7:56 am

    You might want to rename this article to “Toyota Having A Historic Season” because it’s obvious that Toyota has way more horsepower than the other makes right now. Want proof? Look at Kyle last year driving for the powerhouse Hendrick Team, how many laps led, races won did he have? There is no comparison, it’s the car and if Nascar doesn’t start to even up the field then it is only going to hurt them more. There are a lot of core fans here who still pull for Fords, Chevys, and Dodges and if Nascar doesn’t correct the advantage that the Toyotas have then it’s only going to hurt them more. And, you’re not going to get the core fans back as Brian France says if you keep letting the Toyotas win. This season has been a joke for the other cars. Chevy I think has four cup wins. Out of those-two was fuel mileage races. One was a win at Bristol after Tony and Kyle dominated only for Kyle to wreck himself and Tony got a bump and Jeff Burton won. So, the dominate car last year would have practically no wins without those deals. I’m just surprised that the other makes-owners, drivers, manufacturerers are not complaining more. Heck, Nascar won’t even let Chevy run its RO7 Engine in the Nationwide Series even though it’s very obvious what’s going on. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what’s going on and why Kyle is so dominant. And, unlike what some folks have said, it’s not just Gibbs. Even Red Bull and Bill Davis Racing are running better. Denny Hamlin finished second to Kyle last week in Chicago driving the number 32 Toyota and was catching Kyle until the laps ran out. The 32 team is no powerhouse team either. Again, ya’ll writers should realize what’s going on. Sure, Kyle is a good driver but this car is making him look way better than he really is. But, I guess it’s to be expected. Afterall, Toyota has been in nationwide/cup racing for a year and a half. Just give the other makes a little time and they will turn this thing around once they are in Nascar for awhile. Right!

  2. Jess Says:
    July 17th, 2008 at 10:26 am

    Gotta disagree with you Larry…Toyota isn’t dominating. How many wins do all their other drivers have in the Cup series? ONE. Kyle and his team are doing the dominating all by themselves. Sure JGR and Toyota have something to do with it, but if it was all the manufacturer Kyle wouldn’t have 6 more wins than the next Toyota driver does.

  3. Larry Says:
    July 17th, 2008 at 12:49 pm

    Jess, Denny Hamlin dominated Richmond until a flat tire cost him the win and Kyle got the win after sliding into Jr. Tony would have won Bristol if not for the bump he got late that let Jeff Burton get the win. And don’t forget about New Hampshire which Tony should have won and because of pit strategy didn’t. What about Charlotte, Tony leading with like two laps to go before a tire let go. Kyle has had similar luck at times or he would probably have a few wins. Yes, the other three makes have a few wins but Toyota with only a year and a half in Cup Racing has more wins and would have had more if not for a little bad luck.

  4. Eddy19975 Says:
    July 17th, 2008 at 8:42 pm

    Chevrolet won 26 of 36 races in 2007. Don’t remember hearing any of the people sho are complaing about Toyota complain about Chevrolet last year.

  5. Larry Says:
    July 17th, 2008 at 9:42 pm

    Eddy, you may be right, but remember, Chevy has been in Nascar for decades and Hendrick has too. Most of the wins was with Hendrick. Toyota has only been in cup/nationwide series for a year and a half. How is chevy and the other makes faring now? A lot of difference if you ask me. And, I don’t think that there was a horsepower advantage like the Toyotas, it was drivers and good teams. Heck, Hendrick could have had Ford, Chevys or Dodges last year and I don’t think it would have made much difference. Funny though, didn’t see Kyle having that banner year driving a Chevy last year when his teammates were winning.

  6. David Says:
    July 18th, 2008 at 9:14 am

    OK, this is actually a great topic for debate. I see both sides of this debate.I’ll start with Eddy, since my reply to his will be shorter.

    Whether you like Kyle or Don’t? To end the suspence I will come right out and say, I don’t.. It is hard to argue that his success this year has been strictly what he is driving. I think he is a great driver with a serious attitude problem. To be completely honest I’m very surprised there haven’t been more incidents like the JP Montoya incident involving Kyle.

    Now Larry, I’ve actually been waiting patiently for someone to say what you said in your reply. I didn’t want to be the first to bring this up. I’m generally not a conspiracy kind of guy. But again it is hard to argue against your point.In order to understand where I’m coming from let’s start at the beginning.

    First Toyota was terrible last year. By far the worst in the sport last year. I found it very curious, last season that Joe Gibbs for the record the solid number two team last season to change manufacturers. To any manufacturer, Let alone the one that seemed was light years away from the other three. It just seemed odd for them to make such a move. Unless they knew something the rest of us didn’t.

    Now I’m not going to sit here and take credit away from the Gibbs engineers. What they have done is remarkable. But I would also being lying if I said that this accomplishment didn’t seem a little too remarkable. After all these are the same engineers that where constintly losing ground to the Hendrick crew while drive under the Chevy brand..

    Also Larry is correct that that it’s not just Joe Gibbs. The Red Bull team, Brian Vickers imparticular has also shown remarkable improvement. There have been a couple of races that I thought he might have had the best car in the field. Though it hasn’t produced a win YET. He has been in the front of the pack quite a bit this year. Now keep in mind the 83 missed like 13 races last year. Michael Waltrip has also been much improved. He is not running up front a lot but all of his teams where on the outside of the top 35 rule at the start of the season and I don’t believe any of his cars have missed a race yet and without looking at the standing I believe all three in the top 35..

    I’m not even going to try to explain the Dynometer test that showed the Gibbs engines with as much as 50 more HP at speedweeks, that was widely reported. Though Nascar has tried to say never happened. Or the Nationwide Dynometer test that again showed Toyota to have as much as 20 more HP.

    To say that Toyota’s success this year hasn’t left me scratching my head in wonder would be inaccurate. I expected improvment but what I got instead was dominance. It is in my mind the equal to the Arizona Cardinals winning the Super Bowl this year. Though possible, the odds are astronomically against..

    Again this in no way takes away from what Kyle has accomplished this year. The stars are definately aligned in his favor so far this year!

    Sorry so long!

  7. Mike Says:
    July 18th, 2008 at 11:21 am

    What do you mean Chevy only had wins with Hendrick? Last year you had Hendrick, Gibbs, DEI and Childress as major (note major) Chevy teams. Only other major team was Rousch for Ford. (I discard GEM and Penske based on wins). And in the past there was this guy named Earnhardt and many others who did not drive for Hendrick and sure won a lot of races with Chevy. Having followed NASCAR for almost 40 years it has always been Chevy - and when it was not Chevy, NASCAR altered the rules to make sure no manufacturer but Chevy could win a manufactures cup two years in a row. Pro Chevy NASCAR drove Ford out of NASCAR twice and Chrysler out at least once.

    Throw out Gibbs and Toyota has - nothing. Throw out Busch and Toyota has 1 win. I can play the same what if game for my drivers and give Edwards at least 3 more wins and Kenneth and Biffle at least 2 wins - and then argue for Ford dominance. Jr nation will what if you into 20 wins (in 19 races) for Jr. What if does not win races or championships.

    Early this year everyone was talking about the Roush dominance - but in fact it was an Edwards dominance - and since I have followed Carl since the trucks, I wish he had more dominance. But the Kyle got up to speed and he, for now, wins in anything he drives with a steering wheel. And like him or hate him, you have to respect him as a driver. Boo him - but he is a winner.

    Toyota may or may not have the superior car. If they have the superior engine - its hard work. Remember, NASCAR threw out the engine that Toyota was running in the trucks and expected to run in Cup - and in usual fashion for everyone but Chevy, they did it just before the season started so it was too late to get a better engine out when the season started. For Toyota its been 18 months of hard work with little results. Again it Gibbs - not Toyota. Remember Gibbs is the only Toyota team building their own engines - and the only Toyota winner. Ford has submitted several engine updates in the last 10 years and been rejected every time. Dodge has rejected on one new engine and has another on the books. Yet Chevy has gotten several engines updates in the last ten years. Its not a Toyota dominance - but only 1 win for any Chevy driver. Yet Chevy has 4 wins with 4 drivers. Dodge has 3 winning drivers. Toyota only has 2 winning drivers.

    The problem is not that Toyota has an advantage - its that NASCAR has not given Chevy their usual advantage. Watch - if NASCAR follows 50 year of history, they will fix the “Toyota problem” by giving Chevy (but not Ford or Dodge) an improved engine. The “problem” is not Toyota wins - its lack of Hendrick wins.

  8. Jess Says:
    July 18th, 2008 at 11:50 am

    Larry, I agree to an extent that JGR has been dominating in other ways besides wins, where as KB alone has been dominating there.

    Kyle, Tony, and Denny have all run consistently out front, but Carl Edwards and Jimmie Johnson have both been “dominating” as much as Tony and Denny without being able to finish the deal as well.

    That’s why I say Kyle alone is dominating. It’s not just about having the car to beat…it’s about actually finishing first and Kyle is the only one that has been able to consistently do that this year. Sure part of that is luck, but part of it is doing what you need to do to finish first when other people don’t. (See: Kyle vs. Jimmie last week.)

    Also, re: your comment to Eddy…no, Kyle didn’t have the success at HMS that he is having now. But a lot of that has to be credited to him meshing much better with his new team (I really liked Alan, but Steve is a much better crew chief choice for him…) and him finally starting to control himself a little more on the track. Sure, he can always do more of that, but from where he was last year to this point he has learned to hold himself back quite a bit more than he used to. That has equaled a lot less wrecked cars and a lot more trips to VL. And even if he does say he still hates it, the COT full time has been good for him. It fits his driving style, even if it is less fun for him.

    I don’t want to say Toyota doesn’t have more horsepower…maybe they do. They have been able to invest a lot more money into NASCAR than the other manufacturers have lately. But I don’t like it when people give Toyota or JGR all the credit and act like Kyle has nothing to do with the fact that he’s been to VL 14 times this season.

  9. Jess Says:
    July 18th, 2008 at 11:54 am

    Oh, and Kyle didn’t win at Richmond after getting into Junior…Clint did.

  10. Larry Says:
    July 18th, 2008 at 2:02 pm

    Jess, I realized that Kyle didn’t win Richmond after I posted it. But, I still find it hard to believe that the guy who won once last year with hendrick and led a little over 100 laps total is suddenly unbeatable and it doesn’t have anything to do with the car make. There have been several articles on Jayskis about the horsepower advantage that they have so it must be legit. I didn’t state that all of chevy wins was by Hendrick just that they had the most. But, remember, we are talking about Toyotas who have been in cup/nationwide racing for one and a half years and are now dominating. There must be something to it. As for Chevys RO7 engine, the first race it was used at was Texas last year and according to the announcers at Daytona a few weeks ago is not allowed in the Nationwide Cars. That doesn’t sound to fair to me when Toyota is kicking their butt with more horsepower and Nascar makes you use a ten year old engine.

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