Moving On ....... With Kyle Busch

Moving On ....... With Kyle Busch
(4-6-10) - This is the fifth installment in our series which looks at former ARCA Racing Series presented by RE/MAX & Menards competitors who've gone on to success in NASCAR). 

NASCAR star Kyle Busch has a unique history as it relates to the ARCA Racing Series.  While ARCA is typically considered an important stepping stone to NASCAR, a strange set of circumstances led to a different path for the now 24-year-old racing phenom.

Back in 2001, at the tender age of 16, Busch was already competing in the NASCAR Truck Series, running six races for NASCAR powerhouse team Roush Racing, posting two top-10 finishes and even leading 17 laps.  buschflag03.jpgBut a ruling by NASCAR which raised the minimum age for drivers to 18 effectively prohibited Busch from competing in the Truck Series or any other NASCAR race for nearly two years.

The new age limit sent Busch to the Midwest's ASA series in 2002, where he finished eighth in championship points.  That same year, Busch debuted in the ARCA Series, making a one-off start for WP Motorsports at Charlotte Motor Speedway.  He started the race in the 20th position and finished 12th.

Kyle turned 18 in May of 2003 and was once again eligible for NASCAR racing.  He was quickly signed as a development driver by Rick Hendrick and started racing a partial schedule in the Nationwide Series, while still competing part-time in the ARCA Series, giving him valuable stock-car seat time as he prepared to climb the NASCAR career ladder. 

Busch made seven ARCA starts in 2003 and was impressive from the outset.  His first race that year was the PFG Lester 150 at Nashville Superspeedway, where he qualified on the pole, won the race, and led 84 of 113 laps.  Busch followed up a few weeks later in the 2003 Channel 5 205 at Kentucky Speedway, winning from a P4 start and leading 91 of 137 laps.  Also in '03, Busch had two second-place finishes in seven starts in the Nationwide Series, at Charlotte and Darlington.

By 2004, Busch was promoted to full-time driver of the No. 5 Lowe's Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports in the Nationwide Series.  buschsnickers.jpgHe won five of 34 races, setting a record for most NNS wins by a rookie, while posting 22 top-10 finishes and leading over 1100 laps.  He finished the 2004 ranked second in championship points and was named Nationwide (then Busch) Series Rookie of the Year. 

Kyle also made his Sprint Cup debut in 2004, running six races in the No. 84 car for HMS.  That same year, he made his final ARCA Series start, competing in the 2004 Advance Discount Auto Parts 200 at Daytona for Rick Hendrick.  He won handily, starting on the outside pole and leading 34 of 80 laps.

Since that time, of course, Busch has gone on to a remarkably successful career in all three of NASCAR's top racing series, switching from Hendrick Motorsports to Joe Gibbs Racing after the 2007 season.  In all, Busch has won 64 races to date in Cup, Nationwide, and Truck Series competition, along with his three ARCA wins in just nine starts in that series. 

Though he took an unexpected detour en route to NASCAR, Busch's talent and determination have carried him a long way down the road to racing success.