Woody: Kyle’s ‘100 NASCAR Wins’ Is A Skewed Stat
A weekend story claimed Kyle Busch became “just the third NASCAR driver to win 100 races” after his Nationwide victory last Saturday at New Hampshire Speedway.
Wrong. Several other drivers have won that many races – and more.
Dick Trickle estimated he won over 1,000 races during his career. How many of those were “NASCAR” races? Impossible to say. Many short tracks around the country used to run – and some still run – weekly NASCAR-sanctioned races and it’s certain that a portion of Trickle’s wins were NASCAR-sanctioned.
Then there’s Darrell Waltrip, whose 84 Cup wins are tied for third with Bobby Allison. Darrell also won 13 Busch Series (now Nationwide) races, in addition to 67 Late Model races at Nashville’s Fairgrounds Speedway. That’s 164 documented wins, plus an untold number of others at assorted bull-rings around the South and Southeast.
Likewise, how many races did Allison win in addition to his 84 Cup victories? Again, no
way to ever know. Bobby and the Alabama Gang used to barnstorm the country, sometimes running three or four races a week. He won his fair share – certainly enough to put him well over the century mark.
Therein lies the devilish details in Kyle’s win total. It combines his Cup victories (22), Nationwide victories (49) and truck victories (29) to come up with the 100-win figure and – according to some ridiculous accounts – nudge his name up alongside Richard Petty and David Pearson.
Petty has 200 wins, Pearson 105. All of them came in the top series. There are no minor-league victories included.
To suggest that Busch ranks third in wins behind Petty and Pearson is absurd. It’s as though he went out in the backyard, tossed around a Nerf ball, then someone tallied up his “completions” and claimed that they ranked third behind Favre and Marino.
Granted, winning a Nationwide race or a truck race isn’t easy. But it’s no harder than some of the Late Model and Sportsman victories earned by Waltrip, Allison, Trickle, Jack Ingram, Butch Lindley, Sam Ard and other old-timers. For some 30 years I covered those Saturday night battles. They were outright wars. I guarantee you, the competition was as tough as anything we see in today’s second- and third-tier series.
This is not to suggest that Busch is not a great driver; at 26 I consider him the best
currently on the track in terms of sheer talent/gritty competitiveness.
And each of the three numbers is an accomplishment unto itself: Busch’s 49 Nationwide wins are tied with Mark Martin for most all-time. His 29 truck wins make him the most dominant driver in the series’ history in ratio of races entered/won. And his 22 Cup victories are extremely impressive for such a short period in the sport – and he’s only getting started.
I don’t want to take anything away from Kyle; what he’s done is incredible. At the same time I don’t want to give him anything he hasn’t earned, that that includes the absurd comparison to Petty and Pearson and moving him ahead of Waltrip and Allison in wins.
Busch’s minor-league victories can’t be bundled with his major-league victories. If someone wants to play that statistical game, then they must likewise include all the wins of drivers like Waltrip and Allison – not to mention Trickle and other great short-track warriors – whose combined totals far out-rank Busch’s.
Kyle’s 22 Cup victories put him in a tie for 28th with Terry Labonte and a long, long way behind Petty and Pearson. When he gets 80 more Cup wins, then we can start talking big-boy records.
– Larry Woody can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Comments