Although he has now won 200 NASCAR races, Kyle Busch isn’t about to start debating his place among the greatest of all time or making comparisons to Richard Petty.
But the 33-year-old phenom from Joe Gibbs Racing does want to be considered among the elite.
“I’m never going to self‑proclaim [being the greatest of all time],” said Busch. “That’s for others to debate. LeBron James is really good in basketball, so is Michael Jordan and arguably, one or the other could be the greatest of all time. In my opinion, I don’t know if in this day and age, with how many eras we’ve been through in racing, basketball, football, whatever, if there is truly a greatest of all time. I think there’s obviously greats.
“I would just like to be attributed, or in that mix of the top five, top eight guys. I think by the time I’m all said and done, I could be in the top two or three of those guys of greatest of all time. But I think it’s going to be really, really hard to exactly pinpoint how you can define ‘greatest’ when that time comes.”
What is easy to define is that Busch’s career, examined in isolation, has already been one of greatness. Since his national series debut on Aug. 3, 2001, in a Truck Series event, he has won 200 NASCAR races in just 17 years, seven months, and 14 days.
You’ve already heard that Busch is the winningest driver in both the Xfinity and Truck Series. He has a Cup Series championship, and is ninth on the all-time wins list at 53 and counting. Busch is a wheelman who, through the good and bad, can also be as entertaining as the most prominent television or movie star.
“People say who is the best, all this kind of stuff, (and) I’m always leery of that because there’s been so many great drivers in NASCAR down through history that have built this sport,” said team owner Joe Gibbs. “I noticed Kyle said the same thing.
“I do know he’s unusual. He’s got a real gift. As a part of that, there’s a determination and a competitive attitude he has that you just don’t find very often, and because of that, I think he’s accumulating all the wins that he has.”
Pick a track, any track, on the active Xfinity and Truck Series schedule, and Busch has won there. And depending on how one views the Charlotte road course (is it a new track, or is Charlotte still Charlotte?), the same could be said for the Cup Series. Only the Daytona 500 remains unconquered for Busch when it comes to the crown jewel events, having already won the Coke 600, Southern 500, and Brickyard 400.
As Busch said over his in-car radio after the checkered flag in Fontana: “all I do is win, win, win!”
Winning once in NASCAR is hard enough; winning 200 times takes immense talent and dedication. Busch has shown that over the years, and with the opportunity to climb behind the wheel multiple times a weekend, he wants those multiple checkered flags.
Will he be considered one of the greats when he’s done? Most likely. What will undoubtedly help his case is if he keeps winning. And he still has other milestones to chase.
“Being close to 100 (wins) on Xfinity; that’s kind of what I said I’d quit at,” said Busch. “The Truck stuff, being in the 50s, I’d love to be able to continue on with that and being able to race those, they’re my trucks. I like that. Working with my guys, my team, my company.
“On the Cup side… somebody asked me, is 100 (wins) a number? Sure, we’ll set the next number on the Cup side at 100. It’s going to be hard to get there, no question about that. You might as well set your goals high, go out there and strive to achieve.”