Earnhardt Jr. Can’t Decide The Better Driver

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Earnhardt-Jr

Kyle Busch is one of the best NASCAR drivers of his generation and on a path to become one of the greatest of all time. Many racing fans, if not most, would likely agree — enthusiastically or begrudgingly — that between him and his older brother, Kurt Busch, Kyle is the better driver.

But Dale Earnhardt Jr. explained why he goes back and forth on this debate over the two Busch brothers all the time. Right now, he leans toward Kurt.

“I change my mind,” Earnhardt said this week on his Dale Jr. Download podcast. “Kyle’s gonna do something in the next couple weeks or a month that’s gonna make me think it’s him.”

On paper, Kyle is the better driver.

He has 55 career Cup Series wins in 519 starts, compared with Kurt’s 31 checkered flags in 669 starts. Kyle has finished in the top five 37.4 percent of the time, while Kurt has been in the top five in 21.2 percent of his races. Kyle has 31 poles, and Kurt has 27.

They’re both Cup Series champions, but Kurt’s title came in 2004 and Kyle’s was in 2015. NASCAR fans would probably be surprised if Kyle retires without another championship, and they’d similarly be surprised if Kurt ended his career with more than one.

But Earnhardt explained why he’s so impressed with Kurt right now. He said on the Dale Jr. Download:

“The thing about it is it’s hard to tell because they’ve never really both been in equal equipment at the same time, right? … Honestly, my opinion of that changes from time to time. My opinion about the better Busch brother changes, depending on the race, depending on how they win or where they win. For the most part, I’ve assumed that it was Kyle. But boy, for Kurt to win — nothing against the Ganassi team, but we know they’ve struggled. They don’t have the numbers that the Gibbs team has or that Kyle’s had.
“And Kurt went out there and took that [Kentucky Speedway] race away, took that win. He won that race, and you know, it’s a great car, great job with all the strategy and so forth. But boy, that was impressive how he did that, and I just don’t know if those cars are straight up even, right?
“And so my mind changes on the better [Busch brother]. Maybe they’re both the same. Maybe they’re both just amazing. Maybe there is no difference.”

Earnhardt is referring to Kurt’s first win of the 2019 season, his first year with Chip Ganassi Racing. It came at Kentucky earlier this month, and Kurt held off Kyle, who finished second.

But the fact that the Busch brothers are currently not in equal equipment is reflected in the fact that Kyle has four wins already this season, which is halfway to matching his career-high of eight in a season. The most Kurt has had in a single season is four (2002 and 2003).

To compare their teams overall, Kurt’s win a few weeks ago was Ganassi’s first checkered flag since 2017, while the Joe Gibbs drivers combine for 11 in 2019 alone.

It sounds like that’s one of the many reasons Dale Jr. thinks Kurt might be the better driver — right now anyway.

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