[media-credit name=”Brad Keppel” align=”alignright” width=”231″][/media-credit]Did you know that once during a race, Kyle Busch stopped his car to save a litter of kittens from a burning building, yet was able to continue on and win the race? Or that he once raced a three wheeled stock car, with one arm, from the back of the field to take the victory?
Ridiculous? Maybe so, but that in the age of perpetual media hype it is something that is not terribly difficult to imagine being stated.
Let’s get something out of the way, Kyle Busch is one hell of a driver. Few drivers, in any NASCAR series, possess his raw driving ability and at times he performs truly remarkable feats. It is quite clear that he is rightfully listed as one of the top drivers in the Sprint Cup Series.
Now that being said, we have to begin to question if Busch is really as good as we are repeatedly told. If one is to listen to the gushings of some race announcers, it would seem as if Busch is one of the greatest humans to ever wheel a race car. In reading articles about Busch, we may find that his tears are being investigated as a possible cure for cancer.
Ok, maybe that last one is a stretch, but you get the idea.
And with Busch being named the First Quarter Driver of the Year, that question is further inflamed. How can a driver, currently residing sixth in Spring Cup points and who is clearly not in the top three drivers in the pinnacle of NASCAR series, be considered the First Quarter Driver of the Year?
The answer is quite simple, skewed statistics.
For instance, one does not hear that Brett Farve has accumulated 560 TD passes and 230 game wins across 346 football starts in his career as a cachet for him being a great NFL, and football, player. Why? Because when comparing the greatness of players who have reached the pinnacle of their sport, you do not directly count what had occurred in a lesser series.
Those who are great are judged by their success, or lack thereof, against the best of the best. One does not count the successes if talented athletes when they challenge lesser or immature opponents. To use a common phrase, it is simply not a fair fight.
Consider this, as a pharmacy student I could enroll in an undergrad freshman chemistry course and earn an A for a grade. Does that therefore make me the smartest student in the class and/or of all time? Of course not, I have more experience with the topic and I know how and where to apply material. It’s not fair to judge my six years of extensive chemistry experience to those who are merely starting out.
So why are we repeatedly inundated with facts such as “Kyle Busch has 93 victories across the NASCAR National Series” as justification for his greatness?
The more interesting fact is that prior to Busch’s ‘greatness’ we never saw stats like that. No one measured success in that manner because it’s ultimately meaningless, especially if those victories are accumulated after already reaching the upper echelon of the sport.
This is not to say that Cup drivers should be barred from racing in lower series entirely. In doing so it gives newer and younger drivers something the strive for and compete against. It is something which has been occurring since the inception of the Sportsman Series many years ago, and is something which will remain a part of it for years to come. What has changed, which is a completely separate topic, is the ferocity in which Cup drivers compete in the series.
And that’s where Busch’s inflated statistics come into play. How a driver, with just one points finish higher than 8th in the final Cup standings across six seasons, is one of the best drivers ever in the sport is beyond me.
If I were Carl Edwards or Kevin Harvick, as Cup representatives for the award, I would feel slighted. Ricky Stenhouse, a driver most had written off last year, is keeping pace with Busch and Carl Edwards and is something that is far more impressive than any number of victories Busch may acquire this year.
Yet Kyle Busch is considered to be the First Quarter Driver of the Year?