The year is 2056.
Dale Earnhardt’s championship total of seven is no longer a benchmark of NASCAR excellence.
You see, Bob Franks of Barre, Vermont now has eight championships at Thunder Road Speedway in the Full Frame Antique Division. These cars closely resemble Earnhardt’s earlier championships in the 1980s. Therefore all the titles are being statistically listed under one category.
Jim Alexander does. Alexander is a 34 year-old NASCAR historian and is a self-proclaimed motorsports expert. He has read quite a bit about auto racing and is certain that all future stock car records should be kept this way.
The above scenario is a figment of my imagination. Yet as ridiculous as it sounds, that is how comparing Kyle Busch’s 100-win total in NASCAR’s top-three national series as halfway to Richard Petty’s 200-win total in Cup racing, sounds to me.
Let me state this disclaimer right away. Busch’s victories are something to admire. I have a great deal of respect for his driving talent. His support for racing both NASCAR and non-, with his short track late model team garner added respect from me.
This is not about Busch’s many accomplishments. This is about creating headlines by moving statistics to meet some media members’ need for stories. This is wrong.
Very true some of Petty’s wins came at a time where competition was not what it is today. But every one of Petty's wins is at the Cup level. The series was just called different names through the decades. Petty’s legacy cannot be held against the competition that he was presented with. If that is the case, fifty years from now everybody from today will be looked upon a bit lower. Competition will always improve in the years to come, trust me.
The Cup Series has been like life and always evolving. A 1963 race looks a lot
different than a 1980 race.
However, from the opinions people express today, many of the 2011 Sprint Cup events lack competition in a manner Petty’s early victories are critiqued.
My point is a Truck win in 2011 cannot be compared to a Grand National (Cup) in 1967. Where a 2011 Cup win can be compared to a 1967 Cup win. If anyone is doing anything other than comparing series to series they are adjusting facts to suit their needs to write a sensationalized piece of news.
Geoff Bodine claimed 55 victories in 1978 alone. Richie Evans won 52 times in 1979. Most of them were NASCAR sanctioned in the Modified division. Ted Christopher has won 94 SK Modified feature races at Stafford Motor Speedway in his career and all were NASCAR sanctioned. This list can be made quite long with the strong careers of the hundreds of NASCAR short track stars over the years.
If we do enough research, that group would push the Cup souvenir-selling names deep down on the win list. But that doesn’t create news by twisting statistics so I can write a headline, does it?
Busch has 22 Cup wins. That is 22 more wins than I have. I am thoroughly impressed with his career so far and he still has many years ahead of him. But that is the number that needs to be measured to Petty’s 200.
Writers and broadcasters need to resist the temptation to jump on the manipulated statistic bandwagon. What they are doing now is watering down Petty’s accomplishments. As well as those of David Pearson, Bobby Allison, Earnhardt, and others.
If that trend continues, the next generation of media members will be watering down Busch’s records of today with a future, sensationalized headline. Most likely by someone who never saw Busch drive.
And the fictional tale that began this column will be a little closer to reality.
Patrick Reynolds is a former NASCAR team mechanic who hosts "Motorweek Live" Mondays at 7pm ET/4pm PT. Listen at www.racersreunionradio.com.)
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