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Head2Head: Will Busch eclipse Waltrip's win mark at Bristol?

August 22, 2011, ,

The Cup Series heads back to Bristol for the annual night race and if history is any indication, Kyle Busch will be up front. In four of the past five Cup races, Busch has cruised to Victory Lane and in 13 Cup starts, Busch has five wins, seven top-fives, 10 top-10s and has led an astounding 1,371 laps.

Will Kyle Busch reach Darrell Waltrip's 12-win mark at Bristol?


As impressive as DW's record at Bristol is, and at one time it seemed unassailable, this is a matter of mere mathematics and long-term logic.

Waltrip ran 52 career races at Bristol in earning his 12 victories, so he won 23 percent of the time he raced there. He led a total of 3,436 laps out of 22,964 -- or nearly 15 percent. All very impressive, but ...

Young Kyle Busch, only 26 years old, already has won five of 13 career Sprint Cup starts at BMS -- or 38 percent of the time he has raced there. He has led a total of 1,371 laps out of 6,387 for more than 21 percent.

Waltrip was 42 years of age when he registered his last Bristol victory, so he earned his 12 wins in a span of roughly 32 races. As long as he stays injury-free and doesn't miss any races, Busch will run another 32 events at Bristol by the time he's 42. Even if he falls off some from his current torrid pace, he likely will win at least eight more times by then to surpass Waltrip's total. Busch also is likely to continue racing long after he turns 42, with the additional likelihood that he will remain in better equipment than Waltrip ended up in toward the end of his driving career.

Busch easily could get to 15 or more career wins at Bristol before he's done.

Joe Menzer, NASCAR.COM

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.

Kyle Busch is a beast at Bristol, no one can question that. But I think Darrell Waltrip's record 12 victories at the World's Fastest Half-Mile are a bit out of reach.

With five victories in 13 starts, it seems safe to assume that all Busch has to do is maintain his current pace and he will easily catch Waltrip. But it's not that simple. Busch has four of his five victories in the past five races -- something just Kurt Busch, Cale Yarborough and Waltrip have accomplished. Busch is on a hot streak, no doubt, but this level of dominance is hard to maintain. In fact, the elder Busch has just one win since his four-race streak from '02-'04.

Waltrip made 52 starts at the .533-mile track, but his 12 wins came in his first 36 starts. This track is tough on the body and on the mind, so a dip when drivers get older is to be expected. In fact, since 2003, just three drivers have visited Bristol's Victory Lane who were 30 or older: Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Burton and Matt Kenseth. That's three in a span of 17 races.

At 26, Busch is going to have to continue to win in bunches if he is to catch Waltrip.

With five wins already, it wouldn't surprise me if Busch scores double-digit victories at Bristol, but I think Waltrip's 12 is a task too big, even for Busch.


The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.

The five wins ties Busch for third on the all-time Bristol win list with Kurt Busch, Jeff Gordon and David Pearson. But at just 26, he has the best chance of catching 12-time winner Darrell Waltrip. Can Kyle Busch match Waltrip's 12-victory Thunder Valley record? Joe Menzer and Bill Kimm debate. Read their arguments and weigh in with yours in the comments below. And don't forget to vote for who you agree with in the poll at the right.