200 Versus 200
So, hot topic, right? As Kyle Busch approaches his 200th win across NASCAR's top three national series, the talk is heating up about where it puts him among the greatest drivers in the history of the sport. While most agree that this will solidify and quantify Busch's eventual entrance in the NASCAR's Hall of Fame, a lot of the agreements end there, and then becomes a spiteful battle of words among those who are fans of Busch, those who are not, and those somewhere in the middle.
In July of 2011, Busch won the New England 200 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. It was his 100th win across the three series. "It's pretty cool," Busch stated in the post-race presser. "We're halfway to my number. I always said it's 200. You set your goals high and you try to get out there and do it. It's off on the horizon, it's a high goal, but hopefully we'll get to 200."
200. This is an interesting number for a goal for wins. That's a number of wins held by NASCAR's King, Richard Petty. Now, here is where the conversation usually differs and often turns ugly between race fans who engage in a dialog over the subject.
Busch's wins are as previously stated, across NASCAR's Gander Outdoor Truck Series, the NASCAR Xfinity Series, and the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, while all of Petty's 200 wins are in the Cup Series, the most elite of the three. There is the first bone of contention by Busch's detractors.
Many non-supporters of Busch's efforts claim that most of his victories are across two lower series, and are often shorter distances of 150 to 300 miles or laps instead of the standard 400-500 for the Cup wins. Additionally, Busch often races two to three times per week across all three of the levels, and his supporters believe he should still be in the conversation because back in Petty's prime, NASCAR often raced its top echelon multiple times per week, and the race distances were not the 400-500 mile or lap distances we're now familiar with on Sundays, but shorter races similar to Kyle Busch's Friday and Saturday events.
The true tale of the tape is that you have two different drivers with two different styles in two different eras. We might as well be comparing diamonds to moon rocks. But NASCAR fans have always been about the numbers. How can we not be? Our sport is surrounded by them, from the length of a race to the door panels of the cars. That stated, can we find a middle ground? With rabid NASCAR fans whose minds you will never change, it is doubtful. But, consider the following:
Richard Petty has 200 Cup Series Wins. He also has a win in the old Convertible Series at Columbia Speedway in 1959. That equals 201 across top divisions if the math is correct.
Kyle Busch has 53 Truck Series wins, 93 Xfinity Series wins, and 51 Cup Series Wins. That's 197 wins across the top divisions, again, if the math is correct.
Maybe Busch's target should shift to 202.
No one will ever, ever score 200 Cup Series wins again. Not unless we start running 55 races per year again like we did in the 1960s, and then, it probably still will not happen. The competition level is too high now.
It is doubtful that any one will ever score 197 wins across the top three series again, mainly for the same reasons, but additionally because NASCAR made the rule limiting the number of lower tier races that a Cup Series driver can enter. If that were not the case, Busch most likely would have surpassed the number 200 long before this, and we would be talking about something else.
Earlier this year, Autoweek ran an article saying that Petty is not losing any sleep over Busch's goal of 200 wins, nor should he. In fact, both drivers have agreed that Busch achieving 200 wins would not be the same as Petty's final tally. If they agree on it, why can't the fans?
Richard Petty will be the all-time Cup Series win leader with a nice round 200. Kyle Busch, barring some sort of unforeseen change or incident, will be the all-time Top-Three Series win leader with a number over 201. Now he says he's going for 250, and hoping to chase down the records of Jeff Gordon with 93 Cup wins, and maybe David Pearson with 105.
“Nobody will ever touch 200,” Busch said.