Kyle Busch Sweeps Phoenix; One Away from 200 Wins
"It is not for me to decide" has been Kyle Busch's comment when asked about reaching 200 combined wins in NASCAR's upper division racing series. Having won two out of three races last weekend at Las Vegas coupled with a two-race sweep this weekend at Phoenix, much of the conversation in the pits surrounds he and Richard Petty. After all, King Richard is the only driver in history to reach the magical 200-win mark in NASCAR Cup Series. Nonetheless, it is a different playing field for today's drivers. With the added opportunities for wins in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and the NASCAR XFINITY Series, most experts suggest comparing Busch's wins to King Richard's is like comparing apples to oranges.
A look back at Petty's greatness also demonstrates how much things have changed in last fifty years of stock car racing. Gone are the numerous paved short tracks and racing on dirt, which Petty excelled at... although Kyle Busch would have likely won at those venues too. Although multiple lap victories at the speedway tracks were common in Petty's day, the racecars that he drove were real cars. Best known for his winning in a Dodge, Petty also put Plymouth, Pontiac and Oldsmobile in the NASCAR winner's circle. A year after he won his first of nine Daytona 500 events, NASCAR banned the Plymouth/Dodge Hemi engine in a move that caused Team Petty to leave the world of stock car racing to join the NHRA.
As expected, King Richard was successful winning the NHRA Bristol Spring Nationals in a Hemi-powered Barracuda named 43 JR. In 1966 with the Hemi engine reinstated, Petty came from two laps down to win his second Daytona 500. On July 4, 1984, Petty won his 200th race in what would be his final victory, at Daytona International Speedway in the Firecracker 400. Petty was inducted in the first class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2010. In that regard, Kyle Busch is expected to be a first ballot Hall Famer whenever the talented 33-year old hangs up his helmet. That said, with his unmatched winning ways in NASCAR, it could be quite a while before Busch decides to call it quits.
With great debate from both sides of the conversation, there is little doubt that when Busch finally reaches the 200-win mark, the NASCAR community will be split as to whose career takes center stage. Truth is it is comparing apples and oranges. There are simply too many variables from each generation of racing to compare Kyle Busch's accomplishments in NASCAR with those of King Richard. In addition, Busch only has 53 NASCAR Cup wins to go along with 52 wins in the Truck series and 94 victories in the XFINITY series. Ironically, Kyle Busch was born the year after Petty celebrated his 200th NASCAR win with President Ronald Regan in attendance for the Firecracker 400.
As NASCAR's Cup and XFINITY teams head to Southern California for the running of the Auto Club 400, stay tuned to see if Kyle Busch scores his 200th NASCAR career win.
1) Richard Petty 200 wins
2) David Pearson 105 wins
3) Jeff Gordon 93 wins
4) Bobby Allison 84 wins
5) Darrell Waltrip 84 wins
6) Jimmy Johnson 83 wins
7) Cale Yarborough 83 wins
8) Dale Earnhardt Sr. 76 wins
9) Rusty Wallace 55 wins
10) Lee Petty 54 wins
11) Kyle Busch 52 wins
*NOTE: Called the Grand National Series prior to NASCAR Winston Cup