From here, you can sure tell the difference between the media that really knows racing, and those that don’t. Everywhere, it seems were reading on the big sports websites about how Kyle Busch is closing in on 200 victories. Richard Petty had 200. As most of us know, comparing the two isn’t apples and oranges, it’s more like apples and grapes.
Let’s be clear: winning 200 races total in Cup, Xfinity and trucks is huge. It means you’ve raced a ton, and you’ve raced it- in KB’s case- like no one else before you. Respect earned in these eyes. On the other hand, let’s have some perspective.
In the NFL, do the numbers Kurt Warner rolled in the Arena League, count on his NFL stats? That’s ridiculous! Did Barry Bonds’ minor league numbers count towards his 762 homers? Fsshh! That’s crazy talk. Do the European guys in the NBA get to carry their numbers over? No!
200 wins for Kyle Busch is great. It establishes he’s clearly one of the best- if not THE best- of his generation. He’s easily top ten all time, maybe top five. But let’s not infer Rowdy is doing what Petty did, generational differences aside.
At NASCAR’s highest level, Kyle Busch has 51 wins. Soon he will catch Lee Petty and Rusty Wallace. If he sticks around until he’s about 45, he’ll catch up to Dale Earnhardt, Cale Yarborough, Darrell Waltrip, Bobby Allison, and Jimmie Johnson. Getting all the way to Jeff Gordon and David Pearson isn’t by any means out of reach. Petty is another story.
The numbers don’t lie. Regardless of whatever advantages Petty had, he had 200 wins in the old Grand National and later Winston Cup Series. Busch has a quarter of that.
The problem with how the media is handling this- in these eyes- is the inference that Kyle Busch is a modern-day Petty. Kyle Busch is great, please hear that.
What he’s doing just isn’t the same thing. Let’s not pretend that it is. Even at his best, Kyle Busch hasn’t even approached Pearson, Gordon, Earnhardt, or even Johnson. What’s missing are about six championships, AND a truly dominant season. 2008 and 2015 are darn impressive, but compare it to Petty in 1967, or Gordon in 1998. Do you see it?
Most racing fans get it. If even the most die-hard Busch fans are honest, they get it. The media, and those looking to gin up excitement- they’re a different ballgame.