NASCAR: Kyle Busch in position to join elite group in 2021

Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing, NASCAR (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing, NASCAR (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images) /

Kyle Busch has the opportunity to move one step closer to NASCAR Cup Series history in 2021, as long as he wins at least one race.

As the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series wound down, it was beginning to look like two-time and reigning champion Kyle Busch would end up failing to win a race for the first time in his career, which began in 2005 when he competed for Hendrick Motorsports.

Three races remained on the 36-race schedule when the series headed to Texas Motor Speedway for the second of three races in the round of 8 of the playoffs. Busch had already been eliminated after the round of 12, marking his earliest elimination since 2014 and the earliest elimination for a reigning champion of the Championship 4 era.

A driver who was not eligible to win the championship at the time of his victory had not won a playoff race since 2017, when Matt Kenseth, who had been eliminated after the round of 12, won the round of 8 race at Phoenix Raceway.

But at Texas Motor Speedway, Kyle Busch prevailed, snapping this 28-race drought and extending his streak to 16 consecutive winning seasons in the NASCAR Cup Series.

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As a result, Busch has the chance to move one step closer to history in the 2021 season. As long as he wins at least one race, he will have been victorious for 17 consecutive seasons. Only two other drivers in Cup Series history can make that claim.

Richard Petty won at least two races each season from 1960 to 1977, while David Pearson won at least one race each year from 1964 to 1980. These two drivers are the winningest two drivers in Cup Series history, with 200 and 105 victories, respectively.

Busch’s 16 consecutive winning seasons is currently tied with the marks of Ricky Rudd (1983 to 1998), Rusty Wallace (1986 to 2001) and Jimmie Johnson (2002 to 2017).

At the age of 35, Busch is still young enough that he can break Petty’s record and possibly grow it to a number that will be hard to match.

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The 2021 season is scheduled to get underway at Daytona International Speedway, a track where he has one win in 31 starts back in July of 2008, with the 63rd annual Daytona 500, the lone crown jewel win he is still missing from his resume. This race is set to be broadcast live on Fox this afternoon beginning at 2:30 p.m. ET.