Kyle Petty on Kyle Busch: He’s ‘not anything special’

NASCAR Hall of Fame InductionBy Toby Christie, Twitter: @Toby_Christie

Kyle Busch has picked up right where he left off after his championship season a year ago. Busch is currently in the midst of a hot streak as he’s won the last two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races, and he has won the last four NASCAR National Series (Sprint Cup, Xfinity, Truck) races overall.

Kyle Petty on Kyle Busch audio clip

Busch now sits at an incredible 161 victories between NASCAR’s top three divisions, which naturally has fans and pundits comparing him to the legendary Richard Petty, who won 200 races in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. During an interview with The Final Lap, it became apparent that one person who doesn’t understand the comparison is Petty’s son, and former eight-time Sprint Cup race winning driver, Kyle Petty.

“No. Not at all. Not at all,” Petty said. “And this is why I say that. Kyle Busch — I think there is a category in the record book — and I’m not just saying this — I am biased. I will say that, take that into account. Richard Petty is my father, I’m biased on that part.”

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Petty continued, “Here’s what I think. Dale Earnhardt, Sr. won a number of what were at the time Busch races and Cup races all on the same weekends all at the same time doing that. Mark Martin came along and did exactly the same thing. And there was no Truck Series during that period of time. So those guys had an opportunity to run in two divisions, but not three.

“Kyle has come along and has the opportunity to run Trucks, and to run the Xfinity Series and the Cup Series. So he has three chances to do — to put those big numbers up for wins and stuff, where Earnhardt and Mark Martin and Darrell Waltrip and some of the other guys who did it only had a couple of opportunities. And at the same time, you know its a category that nobody really kept up with before. To say NASCAR total wins, it was always Cup wins, Xfinity wins (or Busch wins at the time) and Trucks wins, so it’s a totally new category.”

To be totally honest, I agree with Petty. 200 wins in the Sprint Cup Series should definitely trump 200 wins over a total of three divisions in NASCAR, but to say that Busch doesn’t deserve to be mentioned next to The King because Busch has had more opportunities to win is ridiculous and false.

Currently there are 36 races on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule each year, however Richard Petty ran in a time where there were 44 to 62 races per season. In Petty’s first 13 seasons he ran more than 39 races in 11 of them. In all, it took Petty 943 starts to rack up 200 victories in what is now the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. It has taken Busch 843 starts to accumulate 161 wins in Cup, Xfinity and Truck Series. That being said, a Cup Series win is exponentially harder to achieve, as evidenced by Busch’s win total being much lower in Cup than it is in his Xfinity Series career. Regardless I digress.

What Petty said next is what really shocked me.

“Kyle started driving pretty much full-time in 2005, and I think Jimmie Johnson started in 2002 or so. So Jimmie has run basically — Jimmie’s run about 100 more races than Kyle has — Cup races — a little over 100 races. In that same time, Jimmie Johnson has 77 wins and six championships, Kyle has 36 wins and one championship,” Petty explained. “So when you compare apples to apples and that’s apples to apples Cup to Cup and then Kyle drove for Hendrick and has driven for Joe Gibbs — he’s been in top equipment. You know he’s a regular Cup driver. He’s not phenomenal, not anything special sometimes when you look at him.”

I’m all for hot NASCAR opinions, but how can you possibly say that arguably the best raw talent in the sport today, and the guy who looks to just now be reaching his prime behind the wheel of a race car isn’t anything special?

Busch already has more Sprint Cup Series wins in his career than NASCAR Hall of Famers Terry Labonte and Dale Jarrett, who are also former Sprint Cup Series champions, and Busch still has many years left in the tank. So if Busch isn’t anything special, what does that make Labonte and Jarrett in Petty’s book? One is left to wonder.

To be fair, Petty did give praise to Busch’s skills.

“I think Kyle Busch is probably one of the most talented race car drivers I’ve ever seen in all the years I’ve been going to the race track, and I’ve been going to the racetrack since I was one year old,” said Petty. “I think he’s a phenomenal talent and an incredible personality, and incredible driver.”

Petty has never shied away from voicing his opinion in the past, but this time I think he may have went just a little too far in trying to defend his father’s honor.

(Kerry Murphey contributed to this story.)

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11 thoughts on “Kyle Petty on Kyle Busch: He’s ‘not anything special’

    1. Common Kyle your daddy also got those 200 wins mostly in the days when they ran 100 races a year and only 5-6 drivers were capable of winning! and your Daddy technically is not a 7 time Winston Cup Champ the only one to 7 of those cups was Earnhardt Just like Jimmie doesn’t have 6 Sprint cups to if you want to blame anybody Blame the media and Nascar of which you are a part of for doing all this lumping together of stuff!

      1. Have to agree with Bill…….100 races a year……40% on dirt bullrings…….6-8 “factory” teams that had a realistic chance of winning…..no disrespect of the King, but ANY win in the Cup series with as many teams with a realistic chance of winning would equate to 3 or of those bullring/factory wins……JMO

  1. I’m with Kyle also. The points he made are valid. Seems to me that a “special” category of “total wins” was created for the Shrub. A lot of the folks referred to here also had to fight tooth and nail to get to the top tiers of racing. Kyle has had it pretty much handed to him – and a lot earlier in his life than many of the greats in NASCAR racing. Now, I’ll sit back and wait for all the haters to chime in on my remarks…

  2. All this talk year to year about KB’s total NASCAR wins across all series reminds me of the time old Mikey Waltrip made a big deal one weekend celebrating his total number of starts across all series up to that point. At that time Richard Petty (when asked about Mikey’s “milestone achievement”) said as plain as day that ALL starts was not the same as CUP starts and that trying to count all of your starts as if they were as important as CUP starts alone was like a baseball player trying to pad his statistics by lumping together and counting all of his major league, minor league and college starts and stats. My believe is that for KB, all of those lower series wins are great (even though he wasn’t getting them regularly when he was full-time in Xfinity before graduating to CUP with Hendrick) but when you are a CUP driver, the only wins that count are CUP wins. And I’ll say this again – for impressive, look at Jeff Gordon. By the end of the 1998 season (six full seasons in CUP), he had won one out of every four CUP races he ran – 13 races in a 33-race 1998 season alone. THAT’S impressive. Wake me up when KB or anyone else does something like that in CUP.

    1. I am 74 years old and an avid fan of king Richard and Kyle Petty is not telling the whole truth here ask Kyle Petty how many of those 200 wins that his Daddy won were on small dirt tracks and Small asphalt tracks and were only 100 miles long and there were about like the truck and nationwide races today with only about two or three drivers and cars that were able to run with Richard who had factory backing back in those days there is not much difference that today I know because I was at Greenville- Pickens, Islip, Ashville- Weaverville, Jeffco in Jefferson Ga, Columbia SC, North – Wilksboro and many more all were 100 miles or less I know because I was at most of those races myself because I thought that Richard was and still is the greatest driver that I had ever seen and I feel the same way about Kyle Bush today as for me I think that Richard and Kyle are the greatest drivers !!

  3. The whole win total thing is completely made up by the media for the media in order to have media outlet for some story. As indicated until Kyle Busch no one else was garnering the attention for all the wins across all three series. Also, of note it would be the same as using the minor leagues in baseball, the various support levels or professional golf, etc. and then exclaiming all those wins should count towards chasing Tiger, Jack, Arnie and the greats of the game. How would people have reacted if say Tiger or Phil m. on their off weekends on the PGA went and played the Nike tour or whatever its been called over the years. As far as the number/quantity of races. That is completely changed as well. While Petty in the 50’s and 60’s did have the opportunity to run 40-60 per year, that changed in 1972 with the Winston sponsorship. The season was only about 28 races long and most guys did not race in both series at the time. Imagine if Petty Enterprises would have run a Grand National sportsman car as well for all those years. Likely would have rattled off a 70% win percentage. Here again let keep hyping this story about how many wins Busch had even though almost all of the wins in Xfinity and Trucks over the years came in extremely superior equipment. How did he do during those few years running his own team? It is way easy to win with having the resources the opposition does not have.

    Please give it a rest. It is not as impressive as it sounds. Petty’s wins were at least competing against teams and drivers that, in theory, were also amongst the best of the time. Hence being in the top level of NASCAR racing, not pounding on the little guy trying to make it in the support series.

    1. First off Kyle is still running his own team so that’s your first uneducated remark . Next let’s move on to all of Richard Petty’s wins being “Cup” I don’t think you can count running a race with a factory sponsored team of 75 laps against 18 or so farmers a “Cup” win and he had his fair share of those. And I also don’t think that you can count the competition as the same when there were only 7 or 8 cars with any chance at all of winning either . You say Kyle Busch is no Richard Petty but by a whole lot of standards Richard Petty is no Kyle Busch or Jimmy Johnsen or Kevin Harvick . I just have to wonder how many of those wins he would have competing with today’s competition. Because even the drivers in the truck and Xfinity series are a whole lot tougher than a guy pulling straight onto the track from the fields.

  4. If Kyle Bush had only won as many races as Kyle petty I’d agree he was nothing special. There is no way to compare racers from deck aids apart but to have done what Kyle has and only be 30 is special!

  5. I don’t think Kyle Petty would know “special” if it bit him in the (pony)tail. He has never been special himself and is clearly envious of a driver who is very special in Kyle Busch. The issue he does not want to address is how special his father’s 200 wins were against vastly inferior competition than Kyle faces today, even when Kyle runs in the so-called lesser series. Kyle Busch’s numbers are simply causing fans to become more aware of the circumstances of Richard’s wins and questioning his claim to be The King, especially in light of the accomplishments of Earnhardt Sr., Johnson, Gordon, and now Busch. Petty would have been better off keeping his mouth shut on this one.

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