Both Busch Brothers Make It to NASCAR’s “75 Greatest” List

·4 min read
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Busches Both Make NASCAR’s “75 Greatest” ListJames Gilbert - Getty Images

In 1998, during its 50th anniversary season, NASCAR unveiled what it considered its 50 greatest drivers. The list included most of the stars from the organization’s earliest years, many of whom eventually would find their way into the NASCAR Hall of Fame when it opened in 2010.

Beginning April 9, the sanctioning body will add 25 names to its “all-time” list as part of its 75th anniversary celebration. It is expected to name five drivers per week—most likely one per weekday—in the five weeks ending with the May 14th Goodyear 400 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway.

The newest group among the sport’s greatest drivers is being selected by a committee comprised of former drivers, team owners, industry personnel, NASCAR executives, and current and former media members. All 75—the original 50 class named 25 years ago and the new 25—will be recognized during Goodyear 400 pre-race ceremonies.

As NASCAR celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1998, company president Bill France called that group “the men who define the competition of our sport.” He added, “Their accomplishments are the benchmark that much of our history is identified by. Honoring them in this way, at the beginning of the NASCAR 50th anniversary celebration, is one way of showing our true appreciation for them and the invaluable contribution they have given over the past 50 years. These are the drivers who made and make NASCAR fans stand on their feet and cheer. These are the drivers who are NASCAR history.”

The original “50 Greatest Drivers” were from the Modified, Xfinity Series, and Cup Series. The Craftsman Truck Series was too young to have had any “greatest drivers,” but that’s expected to change with this new group.

Today’s Addition: Kurt Busch and Kyle Busch

Both have accomplished almost everything imaginable in racing, so it seems thoroughly appropriate that brothers Kurt and Kyle Busch have been named together to NASCAR’s list of its “75 Greatest Drivers.” The announcement on Friday made them the 20th and 21st drivers selected among the “next 25” on NASCAR’s list of its 75 greatest drivers.

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Kurt Busch.Jonathan Bachman - Getty Images

Kurt, the older of the racing brothers from Las Vegas, was the first Cup Series champion in the playoff era, winning the 2004 title with Jack Roush. Among his 34 victories are the 2017 Daytona 500 and the 2010 Coca-Cola 600, plus triumphs at such diverse venues at Fort Worth, Bristol, Sonoma, Atlanta, Homestead, Las Vegas, Richmond, and Pocono. All told, he’s won at least once in 19 of his 22 full Cup seasons with Roush, Roger Penske, Stewart-Haas, Chip Ganassi, and the Michael Jordan/Denny Hamlin team.

His most recent victory was with 23XI Racing last spring at Kansas Speedway. He missed much of 2022 and hasn’t raced at all this year since suffering head injuries in a crash at Pocono Raceway last summer. His record in 776 career starts shows 28 poles, 34 victories, 161 top-5 finishes, 339 top-10 finishes, and nine top-10 points seasons. He’s also won five Xfinity races and four in the Craftsman Truck Series, where he was points runner-up to Greg Biffle in 2000.

His kid brother has been pretty good, too.

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Kyle Busch.Sean Gardner - Getty Images

Kyle Busch has won 227 races in NASCAR’s top three series, including Cup victories this spring at Fontana and Talladega with Richard Childress Racing. He’s won 32 poles and 62 races in Cup, 70 poles and a record 102 races in Xfinity, and 23 poles and a record 63 races in the Craftsman Truck Series. He won the 2015 and 2019 Cup Series titles with Joe Gibbs Racing and the 2009 Xfinity title with JGR. He has won at least once in each of his 19 full-time Cup seasons, going to victory lane four times with owner Rick Hendrick, 56 times with Joe Gibbs, and twice with new owner Richard Childress.

Among Busch’s most notable Cup victories: eight at Bristol, six at Richmond, five at Fontana (including his first in 2005 with Hendrick Motorsports), four at Fort Worth, and two each at Chicago, Atlanta, Elkhart Lake, Indianapolis, Talladega, Martinsville, and Kansas.

Like his older brother, he’s a virtual lock for the NASCAR Hall of Fame. NASCAR will unveil the final four of its new 25 “greatest” leading into next weekend’s Goodyear 400 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway. It’s a pretty safe bet they will be former Cup Series champions and future Hall of Fame drivers Matt Kenseth, Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano, and Jimmie Johnson.