MARTINSVILLE — Certainly, there’s no disputing the lead story line heading into Sunday’s STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway.
Can NASCAR’s resident “Candy Man” keep doling out sweet nothings to his increasingly frustrated fellow lead foots?
Red-hot Kyle Busch, pilot of the colorful M&Ms-sponsored Toyota out of the Joe Gibbs Racing stable, would counter why not?
And who would argue with the guy who has won twice in the Cup season’s first four events. He has finished in the top-three at the other two stops, plus led a circuit-high 361 laps. The 33-year-old Busch is the only driver to post a quartet of top-10 finishes.
Certainly, the Las Vegas bookmakers are quite impressed despite Busch’s less than stellar qualifying effort. As of late Saturday afternoon, the Sin City books had the sizzling Busch listed as a top-heavy favorite — a bettor will collect $175 on a $100 wager to win — over the rest of Sunday’s 36-car field, which will be led to the green flag by Joey Logano’s Ford.
Busch’s 40-year-old brother, Kurt, a 30-time Cup Series winner, said he’s proud of what his younger brother has done.
He should be. Kurt saw his brother win his third Truck Series race of the season and 54th of his career Saturday at the low-banked oval. The victory marked his 201st career win over NASCAR’s three national series — Cup, Xfinity and Truck.
His Truck Series triumph enabled him to slip past stock car racing king Richard Petty as the sport’s overall career wins leader with 201.
“He just keeps going and going and and I’m proud of him … 200 wins and he’s always been my little brother,” Kurt said after last week’s race at Fontana, California.
“He was the lazy one on the couch, not doing much when we were kids. But a number is a number, and it’s significant.”
The wheelman with the nickname “Rowdy” has come a long way. Winning so much has certainly amped up his number of followers.
“I feel like my fan base has been picking up over the years, growing up a little bit,” Kyle Busch said. “I turned off plenty in the early days. You’re never going to change those minds, which is fine.
“Overall, I think winning obviously kind of helps that. I certainly have to give a huge shout-out and praise to the Rowdy Nation fans that have been with me since the beginning.”
“I would just like to be attributed or in that mix of the top five, top eight guys. I think by the time I’m all said and done, I could be in the top two or three of those guys of the greatest of all time.”
Only time will tell.