FONTANA, Calif. – On the heels of his weekend sweep at Arizona’s ISM Raceway, Kyle Busch stands one NASCAR national series victory away from a threshold that only one man in the history of the sport has reached.
Busch scored the 199th national win of his NASCAR career during last Sunday’s TicketGuardian 500, placing him within a single checkered flag of seven-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion Richard Petty, who holds the current record of 200 career NASCAR national series victories.
While Petty’s are all in the premier Cup Series and Busch’s have been split among the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series, NASCAR Xfinity Series and the Cup Series, the accomplishment is still striking.
It’s also an accomplishment that Busch hopes he won’t have to be continually asked about in the months and years to come after he crests the 200-win mark, possibly as soon as Saturday afternoon at Auto Club Speedway.
“We’ve been talking about it for a long, long time,” Busch noted during his post-race press conference last Sunday after winning 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 (to accomplish) a long, long time ago.
“Just having the opportunities that I have, to go out there and try to win, is important to me,” Busch added. “Each and every time we’re in a race car, that’s what my job is. If we just keep winning, the stats will keep piling up.”
The stats have already piled up for Busch in his illustrious career, as the Las Vegas native holds the all-time wins records in both the Truck Series (53) and the Xfinity Series (94).
Meanwhile, he sits 11th in total Cup Series victories with 52, just two wins behind NASCAR Hall of Famer Lee Petty for a spot inside the top 10.
The fact that should scare both the competition and the record books? Busch is only 33 years old.
That leaves him close to, if not more than, another decade to continue pushing the bar even higher.
When it comes to consistent proficiency, Busch is among the best ever in that category as well. His 199 NASCAR national series wins in a combined 996 starts gives him a career winning percentage of 19.97%.
The only driver who comes anywhere close to that number is late three-time Cup Series champion and NASCAR Hall of Famer David Pearson, who won 18.27 percent of his 580 starts. All but one of his 106 victories came in Cup Series action, ranking Pearson second all-time behind Petty’s 200 Cup wins.
While Petty’s win record at NASCAR’s top level will likely never be touched, Busch has his eyes set as high as Pearson’s mark of 105 Cup Series wins, hoping to become the third driver in Cup Series history to crest the century threshold before he hangs up the helmet.
“You might as well set your goals high, go out there and achieve, right? Let’s set it at a hundred and see if we can’t get there,” Busch said of his goals. “That would certainly put us up there with the top guys, being one of the best of the best. But overall, that’s a long ways to go. You have to win a lot of races (in) a lot of years to be able to tally up that many.
“I’m not quite as good as Jeff Gordon any more, with being able to win 10 races a year or 13 races a year. I don’t know if that will happen that much anymore at the Cup level, honestly,” Busch continued. “Last year we gave it a shot, with eight (wins). We’ll just see if we can’t keep firing them off like we are right now and living the dream, baby, and see how far that gets us down the road.”
There’s also been a staunch debate as to how Busch’s wins compare to Petty’s double-century of Cup Series victories.
Both men have repeatedly stressed that the two accomplishments don’t compare to one another, but Busch isn’t even worried about the people who are comparing them at all.
“It’s not for me to worry about,” Busch said. “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,” he added.
“To work with my guys and take them to victory lane, for me, is what it’s all about.”
Busch will have two shots at scoring his 200th NASCAR national series win this weekend as Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., as he’s entered in both the Xfinity Series and Cup Series events.