NASCAR: Kyle Busch could do something not done since 1981

Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing, NASCAR (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing, NASCAR (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images) /

If Kyle Busch does not win one of the final five races in the NASCAR Cup Series season, he will do something no one has done since Dale Earnhardt in 1981.

Entering the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season, Kyle Busch came in with high hopes of defending his 2019 championship. He was considered the favorite to go out and score his third series championship and to become the first back-to-back champion since seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson won five in a row from 2006 to 2010.

But Busch has not lived up to those expectations in 2020 and currently sits in a ninth place tie in the playoff grid, 21 points behind Joey Logano in the eighth and final transfer spot to advance to the round of 8.

In the first 31 races of the 36-race season, Busch has accumulated 12 top five finishes and 17 top 10 finishes. Those statistics do not appear to be too bad, but Busch, who has won at least one race in 15 straight seasons, is still winless. He only has one win in his last 53 Cup Series starts, with that being his 2019 title-sealing victory at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

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If he does not get a win in the final five races of the season, he will be the first defending Cup Series champion to go winless in a full time season since Dale Earnhardt did it in 1981.

To cap off a five-win season, Earnhardt won his first Cup Series championship in 1980 and followed that up by going winless in 1981. In that 31-race season, he scored nine top five finishes and 17 top 10 finishes. He finished in seventh place in the championship standings with top finishes of second at Texas World Speedway and Riverside International Raceway.

Busch has recorded four runner-up finishes this season at Auto Club Speedway, Darlington Raceway, Atlanta Motor Speedway and Bristol Motor Speedway.

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Many fans have compared Busch to Earnhardt due to their aggressive driving styles and success in the Cup Series. But if Busch does not win this season, he will once again be compared to Earnhardt, and not for the reason he would like to be.