Kyle Busch collected his 99th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series top-five finish last Sunday at Dover, a figure with past, present and future implications.
It was his sixth top-five of the season, tying him with Jimmie Johnson atop the 2013 top-five list and -- more importantly -- it moved him back into the top 10 in points. He’s now eighth.
Reaching the 100 top-five plateau is a noteworthy feat. When Busch accomplishes the rare milestone, he’ll become the 35th driver to do so, and join a list heavy with NASCAR Hall of Famers.
Of the 34 drivers in the “100 Top Five Club,” 18 are either NASCAR Hall of Famers or NHOF nominees. Eleven others are either active drivers or not yet eligible for nomination. As for the remaining five, a case could be made for future nomination for most, if not all, of them -- Jim Paschal, Buddy Baker, Ricky Rudd, Harry Gant and James Hylton.
Busch’s pace to the 100 top-five level ranks mid-pack. On Sunday, in the Party in the Poconos 400 at Pocono Raceway on TNT, Busch will make start No. 307. A top-five at Pocono -- aside from being surprising (he struggles there) -- would make Busch the 20th-fastest to reach 100 top-fives. Lock in that rank whether it happens on Sunday or not. Twenty-first on that list is Bill Elliott, who needed 320 starts to reach 100 top-fives.
And in case you were wondering…
The fastest to 100 top-fives: 2014 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Tim Flock, at 164 starts.
No. 34, soon to be No. 35: Jeff Burton, who reached 100 top-fives in 2006 in his 720th start.
Though mid-pack in terms of pace, at age 28, Busch would be the third-youngest driver to reach 100 top-fives. Richard Petty (26) and Jeff Gordon (27) rank 1-2.
Statistically, Busch is all-or-nothing at Pocono. He has four top-fives in 16 starts, but eight finishes outside the top 20.
Which brings us to Joey Logano, another young gun who seems old because he’s been around a while.
Logano, who will pull double duty this weekend in Iowa for the Nationwide race and Pocono for the Sprint Cup race, is a fifth of the way to 100 top-fives.
But, lately, they’ve come in bunches. Logano has scored four of his 20 top-fives in 2013, twice as many as he had all of last season.
One of those 2012 top-fives came in his victory at Pocono last year, a race that easily ranks as Logano’s best since joining the series full-time in 2009. Along with a career-best Driver Rating of 133.7, Logano had an average running position of 3.4, 22 Fastest Laps Run and 49 laps led in his second career win.