NASCAR »

Busch deserves credit for `08 campaign.

With the New Year upon us, it's worth taking a look back at the 2008 NASCAR season and recognising a performance that was all but lost in the hoopla surrounding Jimmie Johnson's third straight Sprint Cup championship and Carl Edwards' emergence as Johnson's most formidable challenger.

Admittedly, the collapse of Kyle Busch's #18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota team in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup tainted an otherwise phenomenal season in which Busch won eight of the first 22 Cup races in his first year with JGR. Nevertheless, Busch deserves high praise for what he was able to accomplish during that transition year.

Busch, 23, went to victory lane a record-tying ten times in the Nationwide Series, winning five times after a NASCAR rule change reduced the horsepower of Toyota engines. With three victories in the truck series to go with eight in Cup and ten in the Nationwide, Busch racked up an aggregate 21 victories in NASCAR's top three touring series.

Even though Busch was all but a forgotten man after mechanical problems in the first three Chase races knocked him out of contention for the Cup title, the drivers who competed against him in 2008 invariably mentioned him prominently, along with Johnson and Edwards, when questioned about driver-of-the-year candidates.

Before the season started, Busch revealed a goal he has established for his career - 200 NASCAR victories. That doesn't mean he expects to equal Richard Petty's record victory total in the Cup series. Rather, Busch hopes to win 200 races in NASCAR's top three series combined.

Busch's 21 victories in 2008 raised his career total to 42 (twelve Cup, 21 Nationwide and nine truck) and set a standard that will be difficult to duplicate.

“I think, realistically, there's 15 wins that could be had a year probably, but 21, that was pretty special,” Busch, who gave Toyota its first victory in the Cup series March 9 at Atlanta Motor Speedway said. “I don't know if we can do that again next year.

“I know in the Nationwide stuff, hopefully we'll have a chance to do that. I'm running a few truck races again next year. And in the Cup series, with the way the competition changed there in the middle of the year, and the way that everybody caught up to us and what we were doing, it sort of set us back a little - so we've got to regain the advantage we had and go back at 'em next year.”

Despite skipping five Nationwide races, Busch finished sixth in the final standings. In 2009, he plans to run the full schedule. With defending champion Clint Bowyer not running a full Nationwide schedule, Busch and Edwards will be the clear favorites to secure the championship. They'll also have a chance to do something unprecedented, if either can win the Nationwide and Cup championships in the same season.

Let's not jump ahead to 2009, however, without pausing to consider what Busch accomplished in 2008. The performances of Johnson and Edwards were expected, while Busch entered the season as a young driver with enormous talent and an equally vast reservoir of unfulfilled potential.

That perspective changed dramatically when Busch won more than a third of the first 22 Cup races.

Now, he'll enter 2009 as one of the favourites to win the Cup championship - and deservedly so.

by Reid Spencer/Sporting News


Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Kyle Busch wins the Kobalt Tools 500 in Atlanta [Pic Credit image.net]
Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Quicken Loans Chevrolet SS, races to an eighth place finish with Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS who finished in second place Saturday night, April 9, 2016 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo by Alan Marler for Chevy Racing)
Chase Elliott, driver of the #24 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet SS, stops in his pit on his way to a fifth place finish Saturday night, April 9, 2016 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas. Elliott takes over the #24 car from retired driver Jeff Gordon.  (Photo by Ashley R Dickerson for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS, races to a fourth place finish Saturday night, April 9, 2016 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo by Alan Marler for Chevy Racing)
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS, finishes in second place Saturday night, April 9, 2016 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Brian Cleary for Chevy Racing)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 as Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage (L) and John Godwin of Duck Commander (R) look on at Texas Motor Speedway on April 9, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas (Photo Credit: Photo by Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota, celebrates after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 9, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 9, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota, celebrates winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 9, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 9, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Carl Edwards, driver of the #19 Stanley Toyota, leads the field to the green flag to start the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 9, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Bass Pro Shops/TRACKER Boats Toyota, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 7, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Carl Edwards, driver of the #19 Stanley Toyota, poses with the Coors Light Pole Award after qualifying for the pole position for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 8, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Carl Edwards, driver of the #19 Stanley Toyota, poses with the Coors Light Pole Award after qualifying for the pole position for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 8, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s 75th Anniversary Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on April 3, 2016 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Photo by Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s 75th Anniversary Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on April 3, 2016 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Photo by Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s 75th Anniversary Toyota, celebrates with the chequered flag after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on April 3, 2016 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s 75th Anniversary Toyota, crosses the finish line to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on April 3, 2016 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Photo by Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)

Join the conversation - Add your comment

Please login or register before adding your comments.

Although the administrators and moderators of this website will attempt to keep all objectionable comments off these pages, it is impossible for us to review all messages. All messages express the views of the poster, and neither Crash Media Group nor Crash.Net will be held responsible for the content of any message. We do not vouch for or warrant the accuracy, completeness or usefulness of any message, and are not responsible for the contents of any message. If you find a message objectionable, please contact us and inform us of the problem or use the [report] function next to the offending post. Any message that does not conform with the policy of this service can be edited or removed with immediate effect.


Bev Muskopf - Unregistered

January 02, 2009 11:36 PM

I will admit Kyle won many races, some he did honestly. Others, he ran people into the wall, just to get a win. I was afraid he was going to kill someone before the 2008 season was over. Many people I know sent emails to his team owner, and also to his sponsors. All we wanted was for him to treat other drivers with respect. He acts and races like a spoiled brat. Hopefully he will "grow up". the sooner the better.



© 1999 - 2016 Crash Media Group

The total or partial reproduction of text, photographs or illustrations is not permitted in any form.