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Woody: Don’t Inflate Busch’s Win Total

Larry Woody | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Tuesday, August 31 2010

Kyle Busch's numbers are not yet King-like. (File photo by John Sommers II/Getty Images)

Larry Woody | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

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.

Baloney.

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 lwoody@racintoday.com

Larry Woody | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Tuesday, August 31 2010
21 Comments

21 Comments »

  • oldnascar says:

    I agree you should add up wins from all 3 series. It would be like a NFL running back adding his 100 yard games from high school and collage.

  • GoKyle says:

    Well, I guess you are one of the Busch haters from your tone. A couple of points though when Petty was racing there wasn’t restirictions against certain manufacturers such as there is today. Toyota being restricted with a restricter plate in Nationwide. Chevy obviously allowed to run way more horse power in Sprint with NO restrictions. Bush has won his races on SKILL and is most likely the most talented driver out there. Gordon is also but doesn’t have the drive Kyle has.

    I know you mentioned Kyles age but he has many, many years to go to break records. I wish Busch haters wouldn’t take away from the kid what he has did and is doing.

    You can rest assure if he was driving a Chevy in Sprint, he would easily be leading the series and wouldn’t have to work as hard as he does in a toyota.

  • Racemaster says:

    KYLE WHO ?

    • JR says:

      You know, the guy who was replaced by Junior at Hendrick.

      • justin says:

        I think it is ridiculous for anyone to think Kyle was replaced by Jr. Lets look at Hendrick’s 4 teams. Hendrick had 2 options:
        Option A) Gordon, Johnson, Busch, Earnhardt Jr
        Option B) Gordon, Johnson, Mears, Earnhardt Jr
        Let that sink in for a second. Hendrick could have had both drivers if he wanted, Earnhardt may have taken over Busch’s seat, in literal terms, but in reality, Hendrick simply chose Mears over Busch…. As illustrated above, HMS could have had both Kyle and Jr, but Hendrck simply didnt want Kyle anymore, because he was a pain in the arse…. I agree choosing Mears over Kyle is a joke, but that is the reality

        • Dave says:

          Wrong justin, Kyle’s contract was UP at the end of 2007 Mears still had 2008 to go on his contract, I know Slick Rick could have bought out Mears contract but he chose to let Kyle go, which in hindsite is the best thing that EVER happened in Kyle’s case

          And Slick Rick will NEVER and i mean NEVER WILL admit he screwed up bigtime by letting Rowdy get away

  • Bill M says:

    To lump together Kyle Busch’s wins is ridiculous. Like it or not the Nationwide Series and the Truck series are lower tier venues and should not be included with the Sprint Cup Races. Kyle is a talented driver but he is not the only one who is. He should leave the lower tier races alone and concentrate on the “big boy” race. The only reason he wants to count those victories is to boost an already overwhelming ego. Give it a rest. Beat the 43 sprint cup drivers week after week and prove how good you are.

  • SB says:

    I have no problem with the media lumping all KyBu’s wins together…as long as they do the same with every other driver who has raced in all 3 ‘top’ series since 1995 when the truck series started. If you totaled all the wins by drivers like Harvick, Earnhardt, Jr., Truex, etc., it would make them look pretty stellar, too. I take nothing away from Busch’s ability, but let’s at least measure everyone with the same tape.

  • Steve says:

    The guy has been non existant for most of the season. He wins 3 races in Bristol and all of a sudden he is greatness? I don’t buy it. He needs to do alot more with his career than win minor league races. If he doesn’t put more focus on his Cup program, he will win alot more minor league races but he will come far short with very few Cup wins and zero championships.

    The sport is struggling right now. Hyping up these 3 wins as greatness to try and get people watching shows real signs of desperation.

  • Leon says:

    I disagree with your idea of segregating truck ,nationwide, and cup wins. The three levels of the elite NASCAR touring series are very hard to score victories in on their own right.

    I don’t care for Kyle Busch’s on track persona,his childish and socially immature, but he is without a doubt one of the best race car drivers presently in all of NASCAR! His numbers are not tainted and shouldn’t have an asterik beside them.

    As some of your readers have pointed out, some of Petty’s wins were at tracks with less competition, etc.

    Love him or loathe him, he is force to reckoned with each weekend this year!

  • JR says:

    Because of all the changes NASCAR has made to its format in just the past few years, it’s impossible to compare anything. The implementation of the green/white/checker rule alone has greatly influenced who the winner was vs who the winner would have been without that rule. Throw in double file restarts, lucky dogs, wave around, pit road speeding and we don’t have the ability to compare drivers of today to drivers of 2000, let alone compare them to drivers of 1990, 1980 or earlier. Let’s just say Kyle Busch is of the same caliber of driver as Petty, Pearson, Waltrip, Allison, Yarborough, Gordon, Earnhardt Sr and Johnson.

    • Andy says:

      When lil shrub wins a few championships in Cup then we will mention him in the same sentence as Petty, Pearson, Waltrip, Allison, Gordon, Earnhardt Sr., and Johnson. Until then he is a driver trying to get to that level. Nationwide and Truck wins are not the same as a Cup win. I think you like him a little to much and need to take lil Busch off that pedestal. The only thing he is of Cup Champion caliber is his whining and throwing fits.

      • JR says:

        Thanks for your opinion, Andy. Like a–holes, everybody has one. Nowhere in my comments did I say I liked Kyle. Driving ability is not limited to the Cup Series. I was complimenting his driving ability. I can only guess who your favorite driver is.

  • Jerry says:

    Last time I checked, Jimmie Johnson has 52 Cup wins, not 47. How do you feel about taking away Cup wins?

  • Also one should remember that more than a few of the 200 Richard Petty wins were back when there were as many as 74 races in a season and very few of the top drivers went to all of them. At many of the backwater tracks there would only be 2 or 3 cars with any serious chance of winning, and Petty very often was one of those.
    It was a different era, everything was different,… the money or lack of it, the races, the tracks, the cars,….it was a different time. Trying to compare one record of 40 or 50 years ago with a current one is a fool’s errand.

    • Dave says:

      They NEVER ran 74 races in a season, the most thats EVER been run was in 1964 when they ran something like 63 and thats the most ever recorded, heck look it up if you don’t believe me.

      Besides, with Petty being the all time leader in 500 mile race wins at 55, if you add up all the tracks they still run on he still has 106 wins, add Wilksboro’s 15 wins, and Riverside’s 5 road course wins thats 126.

      Course thats dropping the 74 dirt track wins of his famous 200 win total, and a lot of those dirt races were 300 laps on a 1/2 mile with a 4000 lb. car with NO power steering,but BELIEVE what you want 200 is still 200.

  • Ferd says:

    So why don’t you just come out and admit you don’t like Kyle Busch? You could have saved a whole lot of time and space.

    Also, Busch’s win total came from NASCAR’s top three divisions, not ASA, ARCA, USAC, and all the other series’ you mentioned. Take all your examples and just include those three series’ and KB starts to look pretty impressive compared to everyone else. And given the years those other drivers’ careers spanned, in an equal amount of time KB’s win total will likely exceed most of your examples.

  • Steve says:

    Sorry, I wrote your name as Paul Woody, it is Larry Woody!

  • Steve says:

    Thanks for the editorial comments above, the opinions you give are very true, keep Truck, Nationwide, and Cup races win totals seperate.

    The only reason Kyle Busch gets credit for his win tally in each series combined is that today there are more media outlets,
    and more people to publicize Nascar than in the age of our heroes from the golden age of racing.

    Where was the commentary about Bobby Allison’s win total in short track, late model, Busch series and Grand American (#49 Mustang) racing.

    Hype it up Nascar, your game is in entertainment anyway!

    Where is Jimmy Spencer, and the PitBulls show commentators…
    they told the truth, and were set free!

    Thanks Mr. Paul Woody for this article!

  • Tom Finn says:

    Don’t assume that Richard Petty won 200 Cup races (in todays format). Several of those races were shorter and less demanding than some truck and Nationwide races.

    It is proper to lump Kyle Busch’s wins into one grouping when comparing wins in races Petty and Busch win.