Breaking Down the Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Kyle Busch
Kyle Busch is one of the most recognizable individuals in NASCAR. He constantly finds himself in the spotlight.
Whether he is on one of his many trips to Victory Lane or having a post-race confrontation with a fellow competitor, the camera always seems to be on the younger Busch brother.
There is no denying that Busch is one of the sport's top drivers, but like anyone else, there is certainly room for improvement.
The highs of Busch's career have been amazing, but the lows have been downright mind-boggling.
In the slides ahead, I am going to break down the good, the bad and the ugly as it pertains to the career of Kyle Busch.
Good: 118 Career Wins
In the history of NASCAR, Richard Petty is the all-time wins leader. He scored 200 total wins, all coming in what is now the Sprint Cup Series. Second on the all-time list is Kyle Busch.
Between the Sprint Cup Series, the Nationwide Series and the Truck Series, Busch has scored a total of 118 wins.
His 59 Nationwide Series wins are the most all time, and he is second on the all-time Truck Series win list with 32.
Busch has scored 27 wins in Sprint Cup Series competition which puts him inside the top 25 on the all-time list at just 28 years old.
At his current pace of winning approximately 11 total races per season, Busch would pass Petty for the top spot on the wins list in 2021.
Bad: Performance in the Chase
As good as Kyle Busch is during the Sprint Cup Series regular season, he is inexplicably as bad during the Chase.
Of Busch's 27 career wins, only one of them has come during the 10-race Chase for the Championship. That one win came at Phoenix back in 2005, his first full-time season in Sprint Cup competition.
Almost as surprising as his lack of Chase wins are the number of times Busch has failed to even qualify for the Chase.
In eight full-time seasons, Busch has only qualified for NASCAR's playoffs in five of those years. For a driver with as much talent as Busch has, it seems like he should be in the Chase more than just over half of the time.
On the plus side, it is basically a foregone conclusion that Busch will be one of the 12 participants in the 2013 Chase.
Ugly: Point-Standings Finishes
Most drivers would be thrilled to have a 10th-place, two eighth-place and a fifth-place season-ending points finish on their resume. But most drivers aren't Kyle Busch.
When you are as talented a driver as Busch is and you have just one top-five points finish in eight full-time seasons, that doesn't even count as bad; that is just downright ugly.
Busch has only finished inside the top 10 in points in half of his full-time seasons.
In five career Chase appearances, he has never been higher than third at any point in the Chase, and he has only been that high in the standings for a total of two weeks.
Good: The 2010 Season
It would be hard to narrow down one year as Kyle Busch's best season. He scored a career-high eight wins in the Sprint Cup Series in 2008 and won the Nationwide Series championship in 2009.
But if you had to single out one year to pick as his absolute best, 2010 would have to be the choice.
While his three wins, 18 top-10 finishes and eighth-place points finish in Sprint Cup Series competition are all very good, it was in the two lower-tiered series that Busch had immense success.
In 29 Nationwide Series starts, Busch scored 13 wins and posted 25 top-10 finishes. He led 2,229 of the 5,528 laps run in those 29 races (that is a mind-boggling 40.3 percent of the laps).
He finished that year third in the standings while missing six races.
His season in the Truck Series was just as impressive. He won eight races in 16 events entered and failed to post a top-10 finish in just two of those events.
Thirteen of his 14 top-10 finishes saw Busch end the night inside the top five.
He finished the year ranked 14th in the standings, all while skipping nine races.
The 24 wins that Busch scored between all three series in 2010 is a NASCAR record.
Bad: Poor Temper
It is understandable that in the heat of the moment of a race, sometimes a driver's emotions can get the best of them. It is how that person reacts that defines them.
In Kyle Busch's case, some of those reactions have been very poor.
There are two examples of Busch's temper getting the best of him that stand out to me.
The first came at the 2010 All-Star Race. After an on-track incident with teammate Denny Hamlin, Busch ended up having a flat tire that sent him crashing into the wall and ending his night prior to the checkered flag.
He immediately brought his car to the garage area and parked it directly in front of Hamlin's team hauler. He then marched in looking for answers.
He also refused to speak to the media following the incident.
Refusing to speak to the media is something Busch has made a habit of doing after poor performances.
The second came in a truck race in Texas in 2011. After contact early in the race with Ron Hornaday that saw Busch end up in the wall, Busch retaliated.
As the caution flag waved for the contact between the two, Busch drove up to the back bumper of Hornaday and intentionally turned him into the outside wall.
Busch was immediately parked for the remainder of the race and suspended for the Nationwide Series race and the Sprint Cup Series race later that weekend.
Ugly: Nationwide Series Wins as an Owner/Driver
After dominating the Nationwide Series from 2007 through 2011, driving cars owned by Joe Gibbs, Kyle Busch elected to drive the car that he owned for the 2012 season.
In 22 starts, he failed to record a win. It was the first time since 2003, when Busch ran just seven races as a rookie, that he failed to score at least one win in NASCAR's minor league.
His season was, by no means, a failure, he still managed to rack up 14 top-10 finishes, but it was just a huge shock to see Busch go from eight wins the previous season down to zero.
It didn't take long for Busch to abandon the idea of driving his own car. For the 2013 season, he has returned to driving a car owned by Gibbs and has won eight times in 16 starts.
Good: Short-Track Performance
If Kyle Busch has completely mastered one style of racing, it is short-track racing. Busch has scored a combined 12 wins on NASCAR's five shortest tracks.
Martinsville, Bristol, Richmond, Dover and Phoenix are the five shortest tracks that the Sprint Cup Series races on, and Busch has won at all of them except Martinsville.
In total, Busch has started 85 races on the five tracks. He has posted 55 top-10 finishes and 39 of those ended inside the top-five.
Eleven times in his career, Busch has led at least 200 laps in a single race. Eight of those times came at one of NASCAR's five shortest tracks.
Bad: Restrictor-Plate Races
Fortunately for Kyle Busch, the Sprint Cup Series only uses restrictor plates at two tracks, Daytona and Talladega.
Busch has started 35 races between the two superspeedways. He has recorded just two wins, one at each track, and has just one more top-10 finish (10) than DNFs.
While restrictor-plate racing is almost considered more luck than skill, luck has never really been on Busch's side at these two tracks. He has posted 13 finishes of 30th or worse.
Talladega only helps to plague Busch in his Chase woes. In eight Chase races at the gargantuan two-and-a-half mile track, Busch has recorded just one top-10 finish.
And while his restrictor-plate racing as a whole is pretty poor, it is one race in particular that is downright ugly.
Ugly: Daytona 500
Kyle Busch has never won the Daytona 500. While he has come close a couple of times, for the most part, that race has been nothing but disappointment for him.
In nine starts in the "Great American Race," Busch has only recorded two top-10 finishes.
He has twice failed to finish the race, and five times, he's finished outside the top-20.
Busch has put himself in position to win, but the results never seem to be there. He has started the race 15th or better seven times, and twice he has led the most laps. But every time, he has come up short.
While there is certainly a good amount of luck that goes into winning any restrictor-plate race, there is no denying that Busch's Daytona 500 resume is just downright ugly.