All 34 of Kurt Busch's NASCAR Cup Series victories
As he continues his recovery after suffering a concussion earlier this year, Kurt Busch has announced his decision to step away from full-time NASCAR Cup Series competition.
Kurt Busch's career has been a long one. As of 2022, he and Kevin Harvick were the only full-time Cup drivers to have competed in NASCAR during the pre-playoff era.
Kurt was clear that this was not a retirement announcement and we could very well see him on track again, but we'd still like to take the opportunity to look back on all 34 of his NASCAR Cup Series triumphs.
At the age of 21, he drove for Jack Roush at Dover in his 2000 Cup debut and finished 18th. It wasn't until 2002 he first found Victory Lane though, taking the checkered flag at Bristol. Six of his 34 Cup wins came at that half-mile short track.
Busch really found his groove later that same season, winning three of the final four races to end 2002. The first of those came at Martinsville, another short track.
The very next week, he would get his first win at a 1.5-mile speedway, winning the rain-shortened Cup race at Atlanta.
He ended 2002 on a high note, winning the finale at Homestead. The only race he didn't win in the final month of the season was Phoenix, where he still placed sixth after leading 117 laps. He ended the year third in the championship standings.
In 2003, he would win another four races. The first came at Bristol, repeating his victory there from one year prior.
The next victory in Kurt's promising career came at Auto Club Speedway, beating Bobby Labonte to the checkered flag.
He would follow it up with a victory at another two-mile track, winning at Michigan, again beating the younger Labonte brother.
Kurt completed the season sweep at Bristol, winning both races there in 2003. Three of the last four races at BMS were all won by him, and people now knew to expect him as the one to beat whenever NASCAR tackled the high-banked half-mile.
It shouldn't be a surprise that he extended that Bristol win streak to three in-a-row with his first victory of the 2004 season coming at BMS.
His tenth career victory came at a track where he had not yet won at, however. Fending off Jeff Gordon, Kurt claimed victory at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
He must have found something he liked at NHMS, because on NASCAR's return, Kurt would win there yet again. It became the second track where he was able to complete the season sweep. Although it was his final victory of the 2004 season, it certainly was not his greatest triumph.
Kurt did not win the 2004 season finale at Homestead, and yet it is likely his most remembered race. While making an unscheduled pit stop for what he believed to be a flat tire, something unbelievable happened. Moments from entering the pits, the right-front wheel broke away and split the pit wall attenuator. The car barely made the turn into pit road while the wheel rolled onto the track, immediately forcing a yellow flag. Kurt was able to make a stop and exit the pit lane still on the lead lap, with the wheel slowly rolling onto the apron past the pit stall as he exited the pit lane. The lucky break kept his title hopes alive, and he would not waste the opportunity. Kurt won the first-ever championship in the playoff era, beating Jimmie Johnson by just eight points and Jeff Gordon by 16pts.
In 2005, he earned his first win at Phoenix Raceway, leading 219 of 312 laps.
He would take an another dominant victory not long after at Pocono Raceway, leading 131 of 203 laps and securing the win in a green-white-checkered finish.
2005 was a year where Kurt won at several different tracks, taking his last win as a Roush driver at Richmond Raceway. The event served as the final race in the regular season.
After being let go from Roush, Kurt joined Team Penske as the retiring Rusty Wallace's replacement in the No. 2 machine. It took him just five races to win at his new home, and yes, it was Bristol. But surprisingly, that would be his only victory in 2006. He ended the season 16th in points.
2007 was a bit better, finishing nine positions higher in the standings (seventh) and winning twice. The first of those wins came at Pocono, leading 175 of 200 laps.
Two weeks later, he returned to Victory Lane at Michigan. He was now a two-time winner at both Pocono and Michigan.
In 2008, it may not have been a win, but he helped teammate Ryan Newman to the Daytona 500 victory. It was a 1-2 for Team Penske, who had never won NASCAR's biggest race before. Beyond that, the year was a struggle for Kurt. His only victory came at NHMS, leading just ten laps before the rain came and ended the race.
2009 was an improvement, and he won much earlier in the season at Atlanta. But he would have to wait a bit longer for the milestone victory that was to follow.
Kurt's 20th career win came nine months later at Texas, beating his future team owner Denny Hamlin.
Atlanta proved to be one Kurt's strongest tracks, as he returned there in 2010 and won the spring race yet again.
In May, he finally secured his first crown jewel victory. Kurt won the Coke 600, NASCAR's longest race. He led 252 of 400 laps, beating Jamie McMurray to the checkered flag.
2011 would be the first time Kurt ever won at a road course, taking victory at Sonoma Raceway. He was still a Penske driver, but now driving (and winning) in the No. 22 car.
In the playoffs, he won at Dover in what would be his last win as a Penske driver. He was fired following a profanity-laced outburst towards ESPN pit reporter Dr. Jerry Punch. What followed was likely the toughest portion of Kurt's career, which saw him come out the other end a different person.
He won no races in 2012, or 2013. He impressed in lower-tier equipment, and had to fight tooth-and-nail for every result. In 2014, he was given another chance, this time with Stewart-Haas Racing. It took only six races for him to return to his winning ways, taking victory at Martinsville. It was his 25th career win, and he would never have a winless season again.
This calmer, more focused Kurt returned in 2015 to win two more races, the first coming at Richmond.
Then, he was victorious at Michigan in a rain-shortened race where he only led six laps.
From 2016 to 2022, Kurt won a single race every year and became one of the most consistently reliable drivers. He was always in in the playoffs, no matter who he drove for. In 2016, that one victory came at Pocono.
His annual visit to Victory Lane was reserved for the biggest race of them all in 2017. With drivers running out of fuel and the lead pack a small one, Kurt powered into the race lead and won the Daytona 500. He led only the final lap in the battered and bruised No. 41 machine.
In 2018, he reminded everyone just how good at Bristol he can be, winning his last race as an SHR driver there.
The traveling man was now at Chip Ganassi Racing for the 2019 season, earning one of his most memorable victories at Kentucky. He battled brother Kyle, the two drivers banging fenders all the way to the finish line, with Kurt seizing victory by just 0.076s.
His lone victory in 2020 was another special one for Kurt, taking the checkered flag at his home track of Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Two years later at the same venue, he would announce his decision to step away from full-time competition.
Kurt was the final driver to ever win for Chip Ganassi in NASCAR, as the team owner was selling the team to the newly formed Trackhouse Racing at the end of the 2021 season. With a little help from teammate Ross Chastain, Kurt held off brother Kyle to win at Atlanta.
In 2022, Kurt found himself another new home. He had won with Ford, a Dodge, and Chevrolet. Now, he was with Toyota and a member of the Michael Jordan and Denny Hamlin owned 23XI Racing team. He battled Kyle Larson and his brother Kyle en route to the checkered flag at Kansas, securing his 34th and what may be his final victory at the Cup level.
Kurt didn't get the send-off he deserved, nor was he able to leave on his own terms. The 44-year-old veteran, the last remaining driver to have ever shared a race track with Dale Earnhardt Sr., would see his time as a full-time driver end in a qualifying session at Pocono. A crash there left him with concussion-like symptoms and forced him out of the race car for the remainder of the year. Just this weekend, he announced plans to step away from full-time racing, but left the door open to returning at least in a part-time schedule once he has fully recovered.
The announcement was an emotional one, and even if Kurt never starts another Cup race, his career is no doubt Hall of Fame worthy. He won with five different teams and four different manufacturers, a successful career spanning over two decades. He's competed in the Indianapolis 500 and has overcome so much in his personal life just to keep racing. If he's one day able, there's no doubt we will see Kurt put himself behind the wheel of a race car once again.
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