DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — NASCAR drivers for more than a generation have looked up at Richard Petty’s record win total of 200, a number as synonymous with The King as his feathered cowboy hats, dark glasses and cowboy boots.
“It’s just a bunch of wins,” Petty said.
A whole bunch that add up to one big number that Kyle Busch is primed to zip past this season. Sort of.
Petty is NASCAR’s undisputed leader in victories, with each checkered flag collected in the elite Cup series. He won his first race in 1960 and his last one in Daytona in 1984. Not only is Petty in first, he has no peer — David Pearson, who died in November, is up next with 103. Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon was the only other driver within striking of distance of 100 with 93 Cup wins.
Busch, 33, has 194 NASCAR wins across three series and sits 11th on the career Cup list with 51.
“If he’s not the best, he’s one of the best,” long-time Petty crew chief Dale Inman said.
The debate is raised because Busch accumulated his wins in two other NASCAR series that weren’t available in Petty’s heyday: Busch has a record 51 wins in the Truck Series (formed in 1995) and 91 more in the second-tier Xfinity Series (1982).
Busch said he would never compare his win total with Petty’s.
“Absolutely not because his number is obviously Cup wins and mine’s not,” Busch said.
Busch won eight times in Cup races in 2018 and that total alone would push him past Petty. He is scheduled to race five times this season in the trucks series and seven in the Xfinity series.
Busch has set a goal of 100 Cup victories.
“Nobody will ever touch 200,” he said.
NASCAR notes: The Daytona 500 is a sellout for the fourth consecutive year after the track announced the last of all reserved grandstand seats was purchased for the 61st running of “The Great American Race.” … Houston Texans linebacker J.J. Watt will serve as grand marshal, giving the command for drivers to start their engines. … New England Patriots receiver and Super Bowl MVP Julian Edelman, a Woodside High alum, will serve as honorary starter, waving the green flag. … Retired NASCAR star Dale Earnhardt Jr. will serve as honorary pace truck driver, leading the field to the green flag.
Xfinity Series: JR Motorsports driver Michael Annett stretched the Speedweeks streak of first-time winners to three with a victory in the series season opener.
Annett beat teammate Justin Allgaier to the finish line by 0.116 of a second in the 120-lap, 300-mile race.
This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/sports/article/Kyle-vs-The-King-Busch-chases-Petty-for-200-13622614.php.