Crunching Numbers: A Busch decade

June, 28, 2011

Driving in to work Monday morning, I was listening to some NASCAR talk radio, and they made the thought-provoking point that road-course racing is the new Bristol.

They have a point. Bristol used to be about one-lane racing, and if you were in the preferred lane, you could be just seconds away from a quarter-panel ramming and a trip to the high side of the track, where driver after driver would go by you.

Except, now, at a place such as Infineon Raceway, the preferred line changes sides of the track on a turn-by-turn basis, and you don't get shoved to the high side as much as you find yourself forced into the grass or a gravel pit.

Hey, at least it's not quicksand. Although watching drivers try to get out of them at Road America does make me wonder.

And where does that leave us? With some old-school, Bristol-style fussin' and a-feudin'. What would you like? Brian Vickers versus Tony Stewart? Juan Pablo Montoya versus Brad Keselowski/Kasey Kahne? Robby Gordon versus Joey Logano? Jacques Villeneuve versus Max Papis/Brian Scott?

There's no wrong choice, but Kahne did have the best post-wreck interview, implying that Montoya was mad at himself for his inability to win on an oval.

But, for now, let's focus on the winner, since there was actually a race or two run through all the carnage.

A Decade Of Wins

Kurt Busch's win at Sonoma was his first of the season, marking the 10th straight season in which he's won at least one Cup race.

Busch is the 16th driver in Cup series history to win at least one race for 10 consecutive seasons. His streak is also tied for the second-longest active streak with Jimmie Johnson. The only longer active streak belongs to Tony Stewart at 12 straight.

He has a ways to go to reach the record, though. Like most records, this one belongs to Richard Petty, with 18 straight, while David Pearson is second at 17.

Trivia break: Which two drivers are tied with wins in 16 straight seasons?

Even Road?

With so many road-course ringers in the field and Cup regulars who excel at that style of racing, you might have been surprised to watch Kurt Busch win.

But it shouldn't have been a shocker, as Busch marked the fifth straight Sonoma winner to get his first career road-course win.

It just goes to show the skill level of the drivers who are out there each and every week, for our entertainment's sake.

Trivia break: Who is the last "road-course ringer" to win a Cup race?

Carl's Choice

In order to get his Cup car dialed in, Carl Edwards decided to skip Saturday's Nationwide Series race at Road America.

Hey, it worked, he rebounded to finish third at Sonoma. But, thinking of Edwards as a Cup driver, you don't realize the run he's had in the Nationwide Series.

The race snapped Edwards' streak of 210 straight Nationwide Series starts, the fourth-longest streak in series history. Check out that chart.

So, to summarize, Edwards has more than four times more career Cup starts than the three guys ahead of him combined.

Trivia break: Who now has the longest active Nationwide starts streak?

Trivia Break Answers

1) Rusty Wallace and Ricky Rudd both won in 16 straight seasons.
2) Mark Donohue won at Riverside in 1973.
3) Jason Leffler has made 202 straight Nationwide starts, fifth-longest all-time.

Matt Willis | email

ESPN Staff Writer
Matt Willis has been a studio researcher at ESPN since 2006, working on "NASCAR Now" and "SportsCenter," among other shows. He graduated from Ithaca College in 2006 with a degree in journalism. While there, he worked on ICTV, on shows such as "Ya Think You Know Sports?" and "Sports Final." He also was a member of the IC Comedy Club and figures about half of the jokes he makes in his column are actually funny.



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