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Busch part of a dominating trio, and now has key place in history

Kyle Busch, part of 2018's dominant trio, has now reached 50 wins for his career. Chris Graythen/Getty Images

The 2018 NASCAR Cup Series season has been dominated by three drivers -- Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. The trio has combined to win 18 of 28 races (64 percent) and has led 3,448 of a possible 7,861 laps (44 percent, as long as you're OK rounding up from 43.86).

Strangely, last Saturday's race at Richmond, Busch, Harvick and Truex finished 1-2-3. It was a result surprising to none, but indicative of how this season has gone.

Beyond those three drivers, there's more stats to uncover. Let's dig in!


Busch gets a nifty 50

In Cup history, there have been 13 drivers to reach the 50-career wins mark. The first to do it was Lee Petty in 1960. Kyle Busch became the 13th driver to add his name to that exclusive list on Saturday at Richmond, and he did it at age 33.

Busch is just the fourth driver to reach that milestone before turning 34, joining Jeff Gordon (28 years, 257 days), Richard Petty (29-246) and Ned Jarrett (33-26). Busch was 33 years, 143 days old on Saturday.

The interesting thing about Jarrett was his 50th win was the final one of his career. He won 13 times in 1965, and then zero times in 1966 in 21 starts before walking away from the sport. Ditto on Junior Johnson, who got his 50th win just after turning 34 but retired shortly after the milestone (but he did go on to have a bunch of success as an owner).

We're probably a couple years away from 60 wins for Busch. He can't possibly be the youngest driver to get there -- that honor belongs to Richard Petty at 29 and Jeff Gordon at 31. But the third-youngest was David Pearson, who won his 60th shortly after turning 36.


Ford's streak comes to an end

Brad Keselowski's three-race win streak came to an end at Richmond. It's the third three-race win streak this season. If you want more on that, check out last week's column. Go ahead, I'll wait.

But the even rarer win streak belonged to Ford, which won five straight races with Keselowski, Kurt Busch and Harvick.

No manufacturer has had a five-race win streak since 2014, when Chevrolet won five straight with the Hendrick trio of Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon. The last six-race streak took place in 2007, this one all from Johnson and Gordon.

But it's been awhile since a manufacturer other than Chevrolet had a five-race streak. You have to go back to 1998, when Ford's Jeff Burton, Mark Martin, Ricky Rudd and Dale Jarrett won five in a row.

A Ford win Saturday woul have given Ford its first six-race win streak since 1994, when it prevailed in seven straight from Rusty Wallace, Jimmy Spencer, Rudd and Geoff Bodine.


Ring that Bell -- five times

Christopher Bell picked up his fifth Xfinity Series win last Friday, disappointing legions of Dale Earnhardt Jr. fans.

The win tied the Xfinity Series rookie record, set by Greg Biffle in 2001 and tied by Kyle Busch in 2004 and Carl Edwards in 2005. That list bodes well for Bell's future, as they have a combined 97 Cup wins.

But what none of those guys did was win the championship in those seasons, although all finished in the top four in points.


Exploring new lands -- sort of

NASCAR will make its first start at the Charlotte roval this weekend. It will incorporate part of the oval track and the infield road course. Sure, it'll share some real estate with a track we've seen host 119 Cup races, but essentially, it's a new track.

This will be just the second track added to the Cup schedule over the past 15 years. In 2011, Kyle Busch won the inaugural race at Kentucky. Thanks to the steadiness (or stagnation, depending on how you feel) of the Cup schedule, the only other active driver with a win at a track's inaugural Cup race is Kevin Harvick, who won at Chicago in July 2001.

Since 1990, there have been nine tracks added to the schedule, and the only driver to win more than one of those is the answer to almost any "since 1990" trivia question, Jeff Gordon. Gordon picked up the first wins at Indianapolis, California and Kansas.

Of course, that's nowhere near the record for the most wins in the first races at a track. When NASCAR was getting started and adding new tracks left and right, some of the old-timers picked up victories in first races that we'll likely never be able to meet again.

So the secure record is 14 wins in inaugural races, shared by Tim Flock and Herb Thomas, with Lee Petty with 11 and Richard Petty in fourth with nine.

Go ahead, stump your friends. Thank me later.