NASCAR: Busch rolling at 26
By [0x13]Scott Adamson
Scripps Howard News Service
Trying to name the most polarizing driver in NASCAR is open for debate, but thereís no debating Kyle Busch would be in the discussion.
His fans love his take-no-prisoners style, and they find his brashness refreshing.
His detractors despise virtually everything about him ó and he is hardly a beloved figure in the garage area.
Loved or loathed, however, the man knows how to get cars and trucks around tracks in NASCAR-sanctioned events. And the fact that he now has 100 checkered flags in the organizationís three touring series is an incredible accomplishment.
Busch hit triple digits last weekend when he claimed the New England 200 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. The victory also put him in a tie for first with Mark Martin for most Nationwide Series conquests.
Both men now have 49.
ěItís been exciting here the last few seasons, and being able to win as often as we have in the Nationwide Series especially and to tie Markís (Martin) record at 49,î Busch said. ěOf course, all over the NASCAR circuit ó to win 100 is pretty cool. Weíre halfway to my number. I always said itís 200, and whether itís relative to Richard (Petty) or to David Pearsonís ó thatís not what Iím out here for. Itís for myself and myself only to be able to achieve a goal. You set your goals high and you try to get out there and do it.
ěIf I set a goal that I knew I could reach, then it wouldnít really be a goal. Itís off on the horizon, itís a few years down the road, but hopefully one day we get to 200.î
Pettyís 200 victories and Pearsonís 105 came before NASCAR developed lower tier support series.
Put in those terms, Busch has a lot of catching up to do; in Cup competition, he has ěonlyî 22 wins.
Still, the key number to remember is 26 ó which is Buschís age.
He has a lot more winning ahead of him.
His first came when he was 19, a Nationwide checker in Richmond. Since then he has also claimed 29 Truck Series victories. In fact, when he hops into the cockpit of a truck itís much more likely that heíll win than not. Heís that dominant.
In all Busch has visited 25 different Victory Lanes with wins in all three platforms at eight different tracks.
Last year he became the first driver in history to sweep Cup, Nationwide and Truck events in the same weekend, doing so at Bristol. That was also the year he had 13 victories in Nationwide, a new record for the series that was long sponsored by Busch beer.
He was a natural from the first time he slipped into one of these big stock cars on a big racetrack.
ěItís been amazing to watch and itís hard for me to get my arms around that he is where he is at his age,î Martin said. ěItís amazing. Itís really great that NASCAR is in a position today to give an opportunity to young drivers because 30 years ago having a 25-year-old driver was not something that a top team would want to have. Itís really cool to see, and Iím just as impressed as everyone else with this guy ó every week.î
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