Story and photos by: Drew Hierwarter
As I write this it’s still just over seven hours until race time and I’m sitting in the infield media center at Bristol Motor Speedway. I got here this early in part to beat all the fan traffic coming to the race track. Amazingly, I was not completely successful in that. I also like to get to the track early to get a better spot in the media parking lot which, I’m happy to report, worked out very well this morning.
The downside of all this earliness is that I now have seven hours to kill with very little to do. There will be no on-track activity until the engines are fired for the start of the race. The drivers will all be making appearances at various corporate suites and hospitality areas all afternoon, giving the same answers to the same questions that they get at every race.
The crews will be busy going through the pre-race check lists and getting the cars through final inspection. But once that’s done the cars will be moved out to the grid and covered up.
So, here I sit in the normally noisy media center thinking about the race we saw last night. Kyle Busch won last night’s Food City 250 Nationwide Series race at Bristol. If all you looked at was the fact that Busch started from the pole, led 186 of the race’s 250 laps, and won, you’d miss a big part of the story. Even if you see that Joey Logano almost beat Busch and made it the closest finish in the history of the series at Bristol, there’s still more.
The win was Kyle’s 50th in the Nationwide series and put him one race past Mark Martin and into sole possession of the all-time win record for the series. But what makes that remarkable is that Kyle reached the 50 win milestone in only nine years. Mark Martin has been racing in the Nationwide Series for the last 22 years. Granted, Martin has never raced in the series as much as Busch has in a given season, but to date, Mark has 16 more total starts than Busch.
And this is only the beginning. Busch is 26 years old and has a long career and a lot more records ahead of him. He will not exceed 200 wins in the Cup Series like Richard Petty has, and he most likely will not win five consecutive championships like Jimmie Johnson has. But there’s no telling how many other records he may claim before he hangs up his helmet at some long from now date.
Busch has won four of the last five Sprint Cup run races at the “World’s Fastest Half Mile”. He has the place figured out. Tonight he will be starting from way back in 23rd. I don’t think it will take him too many laps to be right back up front. And that’s going to be fun to watch!