Kyle Busch made history at the Auto Club 400 on Sunday, winning his second race of the 2019 season. More importantly, though, the Las Vegas native collected the 200th NASCAR win of his illustrious career. NASCAR has three major series–the Cup Series, the XFinity Series, and the Truck Series. Between the three, Busch has now won a whopping 200 races.
Busch dominated the first 120 laps of the race at the 2-mile Auto Club Speedway (formerly known as the California Speedway) in Fontana, California. The #18 car won each of the first two 60-lap stages, leading over 100 of those 120 laps in the process.
Then, during the caution at the conclusion of the second stage, disaster struck. Busch was caught speeding exiting pit road after making his stop, and he had to begin the third stage from back in 17th place. That wasn’t too much of a problem for the #18 car, as he only needed 20 laps to get back into the Top 10. Still, getting to the Top 10 is one thing. Getting all the way to the front is another challenge entirely.
Busch was the fastest car all race, but getting through traffic to the front still required risky moves and a lot of work. After getting up to 8th, he also picked up a bit of luck. Busch stayed out as long as he could in Stage 3, and a fortuitous caution let him pit with almost the entire field a lap down.
With fresh tires and good track position, Busch was able to move to the front. He was able to dive past Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano in the same turn, and then the #18 car held the lead and took off. In three short laps, he built a lead of over a second. With no cautions in the final 25 laps after Busch took the lead, no one had a chance to catch up. The lead stayed above two seconds all the way to the checkered flag and win number 200.
What it Means
Kyle Busch moves into rarefied air. He becomes the first since Richard Petty to reach the two century milestone.
Of course, what this number means will be up for fans of auto racing and NASCAR to debate. Petty raced in a different era, but all 200 of his wins came at the Cup Series level (or its historical equivalent). On the other hand, there were often more races and room to race in Petty’s pre-modern era.
For Busch, on the other hand, 94 of his wins have come at the XFinity level, often viewed as NASCAR’s “minor leagues.” In fact, it is noteworthy on its own just how often Busch races at that level. Historically, most top racers stopped racing in the XFinity Series, aside from on rare occasions. Now, though, many of NASCAR’s top racers compete in XFinity races somewhat often (though not weekly).
The modern record for total wins at the Cup Series level is Jeff Gordon’s 93 wins. Jimmie Johnson leads active drivers with 83. Kyle Busch, on the other hand, has only won 53 Cup Series races. How will racing fans and commentators view Busch’s accomplishments compared to the rest? That’s anyone’s guess. It’s pretty clear that NASCAR has its own version of the LeBron vs Jordan debate. For today, though, Kyle Busch is just celebrating a tremendous career milestone, no matter how it ends compared to anyone else.
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