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Harris: KyBu Is No Petty, But He Ain’t Too Bad

Mike Harris | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, July 22 2011

Kyle Busch is piling up victories in a hurry. But he needs to start piling up Sprint Cup championships. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Erik J. Perel)

By Mike Harris | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

A lot has been made of Kyle Busch’s 100th win, both pro and con.

The number, by itself, is certainly impressive. But, yes, it is more than a little silly to start comparing KyBu, as he has become known in the media, to longtime NASCAR stars like Richard Petty or David Pearson.

Those guys got their numbers over an extended period of brilliance and did it mostly at the highest level of the stock car sport. Busch has gained most of his success so far in the minor leagues of racing, although mostly the high minor leagues and in just over seven seasons.

Still, I take issue with my colleagues in the media who pooh pooh what the 26-year-old racer has done in what is still the infancy of his career. I don’t care if it’s in T-ball or 3-on-3 basketball, 100 wins is meaningful.

And building that number in such a short period of time is definitely impressive.

Still, all that number means at this point is that the younger of the Busch brothers has the potential and maybe the talent to be one of the all-time greats in the sport – eventually.

Right now, the kid is still looking for his first Cup championship. That is the next

Kyle Busch is off to a fast start in his NASCAR career. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Gregg Ellman)

measuring stick of greatness.

To be included in among the all-time best in NASCAR these days, you must have a championship ring – and, preferably more than one – in the Sprint Cup series.

Even then, there is no automatic entry into the pantheon of greatness, or even into the conversation about the best of the best.

Kyle does have 22 Cup victories, which ties him with two-time Cup champion Terry Labonte for 28th on the all-time win list in NASCAR’s elite series. That’s not too bad for a youngster still trying to prove himself with probably 15-20 more years of top competition in front of him.

I’m not saying he’s a lock to move into the company of NASCAR’s best, but I am saying that his numbers and his performances, in the short time he’s been on the scene, excite the imagination.

Of course, Cup is not trucks or Nationwide, the two series in which Busch has dominated. His equipment is better than most of his competitors in those series, and there’s no question KyBu’s driving ability is sick, as the kids would say.

But Cup lineups are filled with top drivers in the best equipment and the same motivations that Busch possesses.

Older brother Kurt Busch, who won a Cup championship driving for Jack Roush in 2004

Richard Petty is not being challenged by Kyle Busch just yet. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Erik J. Perel)

and who has 23 Cup victories in just over 11 seasons, famously predicted that his kid brother would be better than him.

He was right. And what we didn’t know at that point was that the little brother would bring an attitude that quickly made him the driver fans love to hate.

Does that sound like somebody you used to know, DW?

Some people were offended when Busch talked about being halfway to his goal of 200 wins. But the youngster did say he’s not trying to compare himself to seven-time champion Richard Petty, whose 200 wins are the all-time record in what is now the Cups series.

“It’s a goal I set for myself,’’ Busch said. “You set your goals high and you try to get out there and do it. If I set a goal that I knew I could reach, then it wouldn’t really be a goal.’’

So , while it is definitely too soon for Busch or anyone else to be making such a big deal out of his reaching the century mark in NASCAR wins, there is evidence that this is only the beginning.

That’s the perspective of longtime NASCAR star Mark Martin, whose record of 49 Busch/Nationwide wins KyBu matched last Saturday at New Hampshire.

“And don’t forget, he’s just 26 years old,’’ Martin said. “There are so many more (victories) left for him.’’

– Mike Harris can be reached at mharris@racintoday.com

Mike Harris | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, July 22 2011
One Comment

One Comment »

  • Terry says:

    Mike …..put the ESPN Kool Aid down and clear your head.
    Kyle Busch gets his points in CUP. Some can argue some wins on Petty’s resume BUT NOT …PEARSON’S.
    Silver Fox 3 Championships running a part time schedule.
    Kyle….ZIP ZERO NADA….
    Pearson 105….Kyle..22
    Pearson won CUP races at an amazing 18.2 %….Kyle less than 1 % .9
    Kyle has already run almost half as many career Cup races as Pearson ran total.
    If you are going to carry water for NASCAR….to fool the math challenged NEO-NASCAR fan…..make sure you get paid for it.