Woody: Don’t Inflate Busch’s Win Total
Larry Woody | Senior Writer
There’s no question that Kyle Busch is currently the hottest thing on four wheels.
His recent Bristol Triple – three wins in three days in NASCAR’s three touring series – was an amazing feat, especially on a treacherous track like Bristol.
Kyle is a gifted young racer, tough, talented and temperamental.
But let’s not get carried away.
After Busch followed his Bristol sweep with a truck win at Chicagoland, someone tallied his career win total and compared it to Richard Petty’s record of 200. They suggested that Busch was racking up victories on a Petty-like pace.
Petty’s 200 victories all came in NASCAR’s top series. No second- and third-tier wins.
Busch has 17 wins this season but only three in the Cup Series. Career-wise he has a total of 19 Cup victories.
Granted, 19 Cup wins is nothing to sneeze at, especially considering that they’ve come in less than six full seasons, and that Busch a mere lad of 25.
But its way too early to coronate Busch among the all-time greats. And to compare his win total in all three series to Petty’s record is preposterous.
If someone wants to count ALL racing victories, then Dick Trickle might be at the top of the heap. Trickle once estimated that he’d won approximately 1,200 races in all divisions. Busch’s numbers don’t look quiet so impressive when matched against Trickle’s.
Again, this is not to denigrate Busch’s accomplishments. But his truck wins belong in the truck record book, his Nationwide wins in the Nationwide record book and his Cup wins in the Cup record book.
When you take Busch’s Cup wins alone, he’s got a long way to go before approaching the likes of Petty, David Pearson, Darrell Waltrip, Bobby Allison and Cale Yarborough. He’s not even close to the winningest active driver, Jeff Gordon. Despite his current slump, Gordon has 82 Cup wins.
Busch, with 19, is light-years behind Gordon. He’s also far behind Jimmie Johnson (47), next behind Gordon among active drivers.
Other active drivers ahead of Busch are Bill Elliott (44), Mark Martin (40), Tony Stewart (37), Kyle’s big brother Kurt (22), Jeff Burton (21) and Bobby Labonte (21).
It’s a safe assumption that Kyle will pass many of these if he stays healthy and his team stays hot. But he’ll still be far down the list of all-time winners.
I know what some Busch fans are saying: many of Petty’s “big-league” victories came in short races against less-than-stellar competition. That’s true. But as the case with any sports record, it’s impossible to compare athletes of different eras. Petty did what he did in his era, against the best competition of his era, in the top series of his era.
How would Petty do today? We’ll never know – just as we’ll never know how Kyle would have fared in Petty’s time and place.
All we know for certain is that it’s absurd to lump all of Busch’s wins into a single total. If someone wants to do that, then they also should tally Waltrip’s total. In addition to 84 Cup victories, Darrell won 13 Busch races, seven ASA races, three IROC races, two ARCA races, two All-American Challenge Series races, two All-Pro races, and one USAC race. That’s in addition to 55 Late Model victories at Nashville Speedway, plus an undocumented number of additional Late Model wins at numerous other tracks.
Allison’s win total would be equally impressive. In the old days he used to barn-storm the South and Southeast, sometimes running – and winning – three or four races a week.
The record book lists Waltrip and Allison each with 84 wins, although both probably won twice that many races – and often against tougher competition than Busch faced in his truck and Nationwide triumphs.
Busch is arguably the best – and certainly the most dynamic – driver currently in the sport, and someday he may rank among the all-time greats. Someday, but not yet. He has a lot of big-league wins to go.
– Larry Woody can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Comments