Column By: HOLLY CAIN / NASCAR – AVONDALE, AZ – Having swept the two NASCAR races at Phoenix’s ISM Raceway over the weekend and now standing one victory away from one of the most remarkable statistical achievements in his sport – 200 NASCAR national series victories – Kyle Busch smiled and conceded Sunday afternoon, that he looks forward to a time when he won’t be asked so many questions about reaching the 200-win milestone.
And when he scores that next national series victory – possibly this weekend at California’s Auto Club Speedway – it will likely be a marker on the way to a career victory total never to be seen again.
At only 33-years old in the prime of his racing career driving for the championship winning Joe Gibbs Racing organization, the questions seem fated to ultimately turn to his 250th or maybe even 300th win before the 2015 Monster Energy Series champion retires one day. So those big numbers still to come are more the sort of historic achievements he can reflect and pontificate on during his induction speech to the NASCAR Hall of Fame immediately after his driving days are complete.
“We’ve been talking about it for a long, long time,” Busch acknowledged in his race winner’s news conference Sunday afternoon in Phoenix. “I mean, I don’t know what else to say that I’ve not already said. It’s just a goal that I set out a long, long time ago.
“Just having the opportunities that I have, to go out there and try to win. Each and every time we’re in a race car, that’s what my job is. We just keep winning, the stats will keep piling up.”
Busch’s 94 NASCAR Xfinity Series and 53 NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series wins are the most all-time in both series.
And the 52nd Cup trophy he hoisted Sunday at ISM Raceway already makes him the 11th most prolific winner in that series’ history. And it’s absolutely worth saying again – he’s only 33 years old.
Sunday’s victory puts him now only two wins behind 10th place Lee Petty (Richard Petty’s father) and three wins shy of ninth place Rusty Wallace on the all-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series wins list. Every single Cup driver ranked ahead of Busch at this point has already been inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Only seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson’s 83-win mark is ahead of Busch among active drivers.
Breaking down Busch’s winning percentage in each series – he has won 10.4 percent of his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races, 27.1 percent of his NASCAR Xfinity Series races and 36.1 percent of his NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series races. Busch’s combined NASCAR national series winning percentage is a stout 19.9%.
Richard Petty won 200 races in 1,184 Cup starts for a winning percentage of 16.9%. The late seven-time champion Dale Earnhardt won 76 races in 676 Cup starts and 21 Xfinity races in 136 starts. His combined total of 97 wins in 812 NASCAR national series races equals 11.9 percent.
Jeff Gordon won 93 Cup races and five Xfinity Series races in a combined total of 878 starts. His winning percentage is 11.1 percent.
Comparing only Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victories and starts – the late NASCAR Hall of Famer David Pearson set the mark winning 105 times in 574 starts or an incredible winning percentage of 18.2 percent.
Busch has won at least one Cup race in the last 15 seasons, including a career-high mark of eight victories in 2008 and 2018.
He won his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship in 2015 despite missing the first 11 races recovering from injuries he suffered in the Xfinity race – the day before the season-opening Daytona 500. He won five of the 25 races he competed in that year and since coming back from the injury has won 23 races – nearly half of his career victory total.
Busch’s first NASCAR national series win came in an Xfinity Series race at Richmond (Va.) Raceway in 2004 when he was 19 years old. He won the pole position and led 236 of the race’s 250 laps to earn his first trophy.
Since 2005 – Busch has won a race in all three series – every season except 2012, when he did not match his Cup victory with a win in the Xfinity or Truck series.
As for Busch’s current run of excellence, he has not finished outside of the top-10 in a race since Texas (17th) during the 2018 Playoff run. He has a six-race streak of top-10 finishes, including four this season. He is the only driver to score top-10 finishes in every race this year.
Busch has two Truck Series and two Xfinity wins as well as the Phoenix Cup victory for a total of five national series wins through the first four weeks of the 2019 season. His weekend sweep at ISM Raceway was his 12th – most all-time.
And statistically speaking, there is no sign of a slowdown in California, where he is entered in both the Monster Energy and Xfinity series races.
Busch has three Cup wins at Auto Club Speedway, including back-to-back victories in 2013-14. He’s led laps in 16 of the last 18 races. He finished third last year. Plus, he has a track-best six Xfinity Series wins at California, including three in a row from 2010-11.
And just for good measure, Busch is two-for-two in NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series starts on the two-mile oval – winning in 2008 and 2009. Plus, he swept Auto Club Speedway’s NASCAR national series races in 2013; grabbing both Cup and Xfinity Series wins that weekend.
“It’s not for me to worry about,” Busch said of that 200-win mark. “It’s for everybody else to discuss and talk about and argue over and debate.
“But for myself and the career that I’ve had, I’ve been fortunate to be with a lot of great people, a lot of great sponsors, those that stick around me – like Joe Gibbs, M&M’S, Skittles, Snickers, Interstate Batteries – who have always been behind me, is what it’s all about for me. To work with my guys, take them to Victory Lane, is what it’s all about.”