Long: Let’s talk about 250 NASCAR wins for Kyle Busch, not 200

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As Kyle Busch approaches 200 NASCAR victories, the question that should be asked is how many more will he win in his career instead of how his victory total compares to Richard Petty’s 200 Cup wins.

Busch could reach 200 total NASCAR victories this weekend at Auto Club Speedway. He’s entered in the Xfinity race — he’s won both series races he’s entered this season — and the Cup race.

But why stop there? Busch doesn’t turn 34 until May 2, meaning he could have another decade of racing in NASCAR. That would put him at the age Jimmie Johnson is. Johnson turns 44 in September.

Could 250 wins be a possibility for Busch?

Without a doubt.

Provided NASCAR continues to limit Cup drivers to five Gander Outdoors Truck Series races a season, Busch could have another 50 races if he goes a decade longer. He has a 36.1 percent career winning percentage in that series. At that pace, he would win 18 times in 50 more starts.

The Xfinity Series is a bit tricky. Busch is limited to seven series races a year, but he has hinted that once he reaches 100 series victories, he would reduce his involvement in that series. He enters this weekend with 94 series victories. So one can figure on at least six more wins, but after that it remains uncertain. Still, if he got six wins and 18 in the Trucks that would put him at 224.

So what about Cup?

To figure this out, take a look at what Johnson has done. Johnson has won 36 races since the season he turned 34 (the season Busch is in now). If Busch won 36 more Cup races before his career ended, that would give him 88 total, putting him behind only Petty (200), David Pearson (105) and Jeff Gordon (93) in that category. Johnson is at 83 so he could finish with more than 88 career wins.

If you want to pencil Busch in for 36 Cup wins the rest of his career and add it to his projected total for Truck and Xfinity, that would put him at 260 total wins.

So, yes it is possible for him to top 250 career NASCAR wins. 

Get ready for some more bows.


With track position so critical, strategy and restarts proved key Sunday at ISM Raceway.

Kyle Larson again showed what makes him so special with restarts, making moves others couldn’t.

Larson finished a season-high sixth and it was because of his restart ability.

Twice in the final stage, Larson restarted on the outside and rode the high line to gain multiple positions on a day when Joey Logano said “it was really, really, really, really, really hard to pass.”

Larson was 12th when the final stage began on Lap 158. He went to the outside of Aric Almirola, starting the row ahead of him  and was up to ninth entering Turn 1. Larson stayed in the high line and was about to pass Logano for seventh off Turn 2 when Ryan Newman and Jimmie Johnson both bobbled, killing Larson’s momentum. He still managed to be ninth on the first lap after the restart.

Larson started on the outside in 14th after pit stops later in that stage. He took four tires while a few others in front of him took no tires or two tires. Johnson blocked the high line so Larson went underneath him but got boxed in. Larson still had gained two spots before the caution came back out.

Larson then restarted 12th on the outside and made his biggest move on the Lap 233 restart. This time, Larson got outside of Johnson and passed four cars by the exit of Turn 1. He gained two more spots — for a total of six positions — before another quick caution. That put him in position to finish sixth

“You had to take advantage of the restarts for sure,” Larson said after the race. “I felt like I did a good job of that today going to the very top when I was in the outside lane and passing four or five guys at times. Yeah, that was important and then just being able to pass some cars and get in line and just kind of try and maintain and not make any mistakes.”


Richard Childress Racing is not afraid to take chances, particularly at ISM Raceway.

Recall that Ryan Newman won there in March 2017 on a pit gamble by crew chief Luke Lambert to stay out late. Newman took the lead while others pitted just before the overtime restart. He led the final six laps to win.

Sunday, Danny Stockman, crew chief for Austin Dillon, called for a two-tire stop twice and no tires on what was to have been their final pit stop. That put Dillon in position for a fifth-place finish despite a speeding penalty on Lap 196 of the 312-lap race. The plan failed when Dillon had to come to the pits late for fuel and finished 21st.

“Danny made a good call during the final stage to take fuel only to put us back up front, but that cut us just a couple laps shy of making it,” Dillon said after the race. “I was doing everything I could to save through the remaining cautions and lift as much as I could once we got spread out. It was just a little short this time around.”

Also, Lambert, who is with rookie Daniel Hemric this season, had Hemric not pit when the field did on Lap 222. Those with fresher tires ate up Hemric but he went on to finish 18th, which is his best result of the season.

Keep an eye on this organization and the chances they take in the coming weeks.


Kyle Busch’s victory marked the fourth different winner in the season’s first four races.

That’s not a new trend.

Seven times in the last nine years, the season opened with different winners in each of the first four races.

What’s different this time is that Sunday marked the first time Busch had won in the first four races of the season since 2011. He won the season’s fourth race, which was at Bristol, that year.

The last time there were five different winners in the first five races was 2017. It also happened in 2011, ’13 and ’14 in the previous nine seasons.

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Friday 5: Pressure builds for teams heading into Coca-Cola 600

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After all the fun and games of the All-Star Race, the focus returns this weekend to points and playoff spots.

Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 marks the halfway point in the 26-race regular season. With only six winners this season, there’s the chance that a number of playoff spots could be claimed by points.

That increases the pressure on those fighting for those positions.

Jimmie Johnson enters the weekend 16th in the points, the final transfer spot to the playoffs. He leads Ryan Newman by eight points, Austin Dillon by 11 and Coca-Cola 600 pole-sitter William Byron by 15.

Ryan Newman is eight points out of a playoff spot. (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)

“The biggest thing is we need to get to victory lane,” Newman said after qualifying 18th Thursday at Charlotte Motor Speedway. “If you don’t get to victory lane, you don’t really have a chance.

“You’ve got to be a winner going into the last 10. Just pointing your way in doesn’t entertain me. If we do, great, and we come into a streak and progress in the last 10 (races), then even better. I really want to have that win and that momentum going into those last 10.”

Newman finished second for the championship in 2014 despite going winless that season. Since then, every driver racing for the championship in Miami has had at least one win that season. 

Some teams already are feeling that playoff pressure.

“It’s been a grind now for a couple of weeks for us,” said Dillon, the 2017 Coca-Cola 600 champion. “Hopefully, we can get a win, but it’s going to come down to points.

“I’ve been scratching and clawing every week. That’s where you hear some frustration from because you just want all you can get. When it comes down to it – and that last race happens – you’re going to want as many points as possible on your side.”

2. A fresh outlook 

Kyle Larson has been hitting the gym this season and working with Josh Wise, marking a new routine for the Chip Ganassi Racing driver.

Wise, a former driver, now serves as the driver performance manager for Ganassi and for some of the younger drivers driving for JR Motorsports and GMS Racing.

Larson, who won last weekend’s All-Star Race, admits he’s not been one for workouts that much before this season.

“(Josh) would always still send information to me on pre-race stuff and things like that and I didn’t take it as serious as I needed to,” said Larson, who will start Sunday’s race 25th. “I kind of felt guilty about that. This year I’ve gotten into a good routine where I drop (son) Owen off at school and then I go to the shop and I work out.

“I think before it was hard for me to find that routine to get the motivation to do it. This year I feel like I’ve gotten that routine. It’s made it a lot easier and I’ve actually enjoyed it and noticed a little bit of a difference. I think just the way our sport has gone, more drivers are working out. You don’t want somebody to get an advantage or an edge on you. I feel like I’m just more prepared and confident now going to the track.”

3. Who is No. 1?

Joe Gibbs Racing has won the most races this season (seven). Team Penske won the most recent points race (Brad Keselowski at Kansas).

So which one is the strongest?

It might be another team.

I honestly feel right now the Hendrick cars are the best cars,” Keselowski said Thursday. “I feel like they really came on strong over the last two or three weeks and had some nice updates to their stuff, so I would expect them to be the ones to beat this weekend.”

He said that before Hendrick’s William Byron won the pole for the 600.

Kyle Busch also sees a difference in Hendrick Motorsports.

I think Hendrick has certainly found some speed,” he said. “They’re certainly getting better. They’re waking up. They’ve come to play a bit more lately.

“As far as the (Team) Penske group goes, they don’t really qualify well but they always race well. Then you look at the (Stewart-Haas Racing) cars and they qualify well and they’ll race well typically. It seems like the SHR cars are trimmed out a little bit more than some of the rest of us. They get more speed out of their cars but maybe they don’t have it for the long haul. Where it seems like the (Joe Gibbs Racing) cars are kind of a compromise.

“We might not qualify on the pole or be the best in qualifying, but we’ll race well. I wouldn’t call it middle of the road, but I feel like we’re in a position to win each week.”

4. More blocking?

In the most recent points race (at Kansas), Erik Jones upset Clint Bowyer with a block on the last lap. It was a big move from Jones who came down the track to block Bowyer and then moved up as Bowyer tried to go on the outside. That it was the last lap made it easier to understand Jones’ move.

Still, as the battles intensify, especially during restarts, more blocks are to be thrown. Did Jones’ block show others that they can be bolder in keeping a competitor behind?

“I didn’t even think twice about it when I saw it from my perspective,” Denny Hamlin said. “The person who gets blocked always makes it a bigger deal than what it really is. I think the other competitors probably don’t think anything about it to be honest with you.

“We all throw blocks at certain times and sometimes they’re not as dramatic. Sometimes … somebody would come up on you and you would just choose to run their lane and block them that way. It’s a less dramatic way of doing it but certainly one where you cut from high lane to low lane or whatever it might be, you are counting on the person either checking up or you are counting on them to lose enough air that they’re going to lose their car. That’s the whole reason you do it in the first place.”

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. described Jones’ block as “normal.”

“You can get mad about it, but we all do it, so you can’t get mad at somebody just because they do it to you. We throw blocks on each other all the time.

“Kyle Busch threw a block on me. I told (the spotter), ‘Hey, make sure he knows that later on in the race I’m not going to lift and he might end up in the fence.’ That’s just part of this package. The better track position you can keep yourself in, the better the car drives. … Obviously, at the end of the race, I think anything goes.”

5. An Olympian effort

Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 will be the first for rookie Daniel Hemric.

He’ll rely on some training he got a few years ago from Olympic speed skating champion Dan Jansen.

In 2016, Hemric and Tyler Reddick were teammates at Brad Keselowski Racing in the Truck Series. Keselowski heard Jansen tell his story of overcoming defeat to win gold in his fourth Olympics.

Jansen entered his second Olympics as the favorite in the 500- and 1,000-meter races in the 1988 Games at Calgary. His sister died of leukemia hours before his 500-meter race. Jansen fell in that race. He later fell with a lap to go in the 1,000-meter race.

He failed to medal in the 1992 Games in Albertville and finally won gold in 1994 in Lillehammer in the 1,000-meter race.

After hearing Jansen speak, Keselowski approached the former Olympic champion.

“We just asked each other questions,” Keselowski said. “What did you do for this, how did you handle that? Different athletes compare notes. Some of that crosses over. A lot of it doesn’t, that’s OK. The crossover there I thought was very interesting. I wanted to apply it to our team. What he said made a lot of sense, and I thought it was something we were missing.”

Hemric had the chance to train with Jansen.

“We would do a really hard workout and get our heart rate extremely high, up in the 190s, 200 range, if not more, and have to get off that and do some hand-eye coordination stuff,” Hemric said. “Then as soon as that’s over, your heart rate is as high as it can be and you’re breathing heavy, closing your eyes and think about qualifying a lap, think about a green-white-checkered restart, putting yourself in those moments, thinking about what you would do and how you would do it. Being able to bring your heart rate down in those moments, seeing your heart, imagine seeing your heart slow down, all those things to get your body calm.”

Those are lessons Hemric continues to practice and says will help him in his first Coca-Cola 600.

“A lot of times in our sport it gets focused solely on the physical endurance part of it,” Hemric said. “The mental side in my opinion is going to be the most crucial. When you talk to other guys that have ran this race for the first time they’ve always said that when the first thing goes and they get tired, it’s their mind.

“That’s a long time to keep yourself mentally in the game. I’ve always kind of trained and had my own mental things that I do to visualize and think about those moments late in the race. It’s something I’ve had a lot of success with in the past. I’ve got to credit Dan Jansen. I’ve kept a lot of those methods in my training regimen and a lot of that was mental.”

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Clint Bowyer, Ryan Newman ‘clear the air’ about All-Star incident

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CONCORD, N.C. — Five days after Clint Bowyer threw several punches at Ryan Newman as Newman sat in his car after the All-Star Race, the two sat side by side during an autograph session at a Bass Pro Shops near Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Bowyer was upset with Newman for contact that led to Bowyer crashing after last weekend’s race. After Bowyer drove to pit road, he ran to Newman’s car while still wearing his helmet — earning a rebuke from his team owner for not removing his helmet. After reaching Newman’s car, Bowyer unleashed a number of punches.

Both drivers talked this week before they got to the autograph session.

“It was good to have a conversation about it,” Bowyer said Thursday night after qualifying eighth at Charlotte Motor Speedway for Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600. “At the end of the day there were a lot of things that escalated very fast and obviously got out of hand.

“There’s one thing I can always promise you about something like that and it is unfortunate, and you hate having things like that happen, (but) that’s probably the best attended autograph session at Bass Pro Shops that I’ve had in a long, long time.

“Obviously I don’t want to do that every weekend. At the end of the day we all love this sport, we are all passionate about this sport and every now and then that shows a little brighter.”

Bowyer was asked if he thought Newman would retaliate.

“I don’t know,” Bowyer said. “Hopefully it’s behind us. We both have a little better understanding of how it escalated into that and you’ve just got to get stuff like that behind you.”

Newman said it was good to talk to Bowyer about what happened.

“It was good to kind of clear the air,” Newman said. “It is what it is. It’s the past. Just something you always remember. You learn about somebody in a situation like that.”

Newman was asked if he’ll race Bowyer differently.

“I try to race everybody the same way and that’s hard because that’s what I get paid to do,” said Newman, who qualified 18th for the Coca-Cola 600. “I try to give-and-take when I came. The way it works anymore with stage points, especially in the All-Star race, you don’t give and take. You take.”

Starting lineup for the Coca-Cola 600

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William Byron will start first and Aric Almirola will start second for Sunday’s 60th running of the Coca-Cola 600.

Byron, 21, is the youngest pole-sitter in the race’s history.

The top five is completed by defending race winner Kyle Busch, 2017 race winner Austin Dillon and two-time 600 winner Kevin Harvick.

Click here for the starting lineup.

William Byron wins pole for Coca-Cola 600

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CONCORD, N.C. —  William Byron won the pole for Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Byron claimed the top spot with a qualifying speed of 183.424 mph. At the age of 21, he’s the youngest Coca-Cola 600 pole-sitter.

It’s Byron’s second career Cup pole, joining his pole in this year’s Daytona 500.

He beat out Aric Almirola (183.069 mph), Kyle Busch (182.933), Austin Dillon (182.766) and Kevin Harvick (182.741).

“This is awesome, a dream come true,” Byron told FS1. “Obviously, I grew up in Charlotte so I came to this race every year. It’s a dream come true to qualify on the pole next to Hendrick Motorsports across the street over there. … Can’t think of a better way to start the weekend.”

Byron has qualified on the front row five time this year and four times in the last seven races.

The pole is the 12th for Hendrick Motorsports in the 600, which leads all teams.

Busch has qualified in the top three for the last three 600s.

Corey LaJoie‘s No. 32 Ford failed pre-qualifying inspection twice, resulting in the ejection of an engineer.

Click here for qualifying results.