First of all, if you want to be technical, then the King, Richard Petty, has 201 career NASCAR wins in a National Series, winning a race in the Convertible Series in 1959. But nobody seems to count that, even though non-Cup Series races are counted for Kyle Busch's 200* career wins.
*Kyle Busch, only including Cup Series wins, has 53 career wins. Not the most ever, but still impressive.
So, why should Busch's wins count towards his career totals? He's the all-time leader in Grand National and Truck Series wins, so why shouldn't that be celebrated? Well, they should be. After all, being an all-time great in one series is incredible. Being an all-time great in all three National Series is incredible. Being the greatest of all time in two of them is almost unthinkable. But he's not the greatest of all time, and his 200 wins shouldn't be compared to Petty. And there's a few reasons why.
Busch needed three series to do what Petty did in one
Unless you want to be overly pedantic like I was at the beginning and say that Petty has 201 over two series, then Petty won every race in his motorsports career in one series: the Cup. If we only include Kyle Busch's Cup Series wins, well, it looks like this:
1. Richard Petty, 200
2. David Pearson, 105
3. Jeff Gordon, 93
11. Kyle Busch, 53
That 53 wins is incredible. Historically great. He's likely to pass the father of the King himself, Lee Petty, this season. But the gap between Busch and Richard Petty is still 147 away. But in case the fact that only one driver in the history of the sport has that many wins isn't enough for you, let's look at it this way: The highest number of wins Kyle Busch has ever gotten in a season is 8 (which he did twice, in both 2008 and 2018). Assuming he wins that many races every season for the next 18 seasons, then that puts him at 197 wins. Just short. He'd have to come back at the age of 52 to win three more races. And that's rare to even get to that age at all. For comparison, Jeff Gordon (who has 93 wins) retired full-time at 43. Dale Earnhardt (who has 76) tragically died at 49. David Pearson (who has 105) was out of racing at 51. He'd unretire at 54, only to retire again during qualifying of a race. Petty made it to 52, but only recorded one top 10 finish.
The cars are different in Grand National and Trucks
This should really go without saying, but just in case, I'll cover it anyway. Firstly, the Trucks. Even the most casual racing fans or anyone who knows anything about cars know that stock cars are different than pickup trucks, so I won't go into that here. Now, for the big one. Cup vs Grand National. The cars look similar, so how different can they be? For one, Grand National racecars are smaller than Cup Series cars by about five inches. They're also lighter than their Cup series counterparts, weighing about 100 pounds less. The last big difference: the Cup cars have a more powerful engine than Grand National Series cars. There are other, smaller differences, like Cup Series cars using fuel injectors rather than carburetion, but those are the most important and well known ones.
Petty faced tougher competition than Busch did
This isn't to say the competition Busch faced was “bad”. Jeff Gordon's in the Hall of Fame. Tony Stewart will likely be inducted this year. Jimmie Johnson is a lock once he retires. Even guys like Kurt Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr, and Joey Logano aren't exactly “bad”. They just don't compare to who Petty raced with. Dale Earnhardt. Darrell Waltrip. Cale Yarborough. Bobby and Donnie Allison. Rusty Wallace. Junior Johnson. And that's not even mentioning his legendary rivalry with The Silver Fox, David Pearson. I could go on, but you get the point. It gets even worse when you look at the drivers Busch is facing outside of the Cup Series. Sure, Christopher Bell could be something once he gets called up to the Cup from Grand National, and Justin Allgaier is a really good Grand National driver, but guys like them are definitely in the minority. Most of the drivers Busch faces in these two series are faint memories in the minds of NASCAR fans. Guys like Matt Crafton. Jeff Green. Stephen Leicht. Jeffrey Earnhardt. If they're not has-been's or never-were's, their development is being stifled because Busch is just dominating their entire series. So sorry Chase Briscoe, Noah Gragson, John Hunter Nemechek, and others, your time to shine has been taken by a full-time Cup Series driver who is likely heading to the Hall of Fame. The best way to describe it is if Mike Trout also played in the minor leagues, or if Patrick Mahomes or Lebron James played in college and the pros simultaneously.
Kyle Busch is a historically great driver. Seriously. I know I've been ripping into him this entire time, but I mean it. The sheer dominance he's shown throughout all three NASCAR national series is unlike anything we've seen before, and it's unlikely we'll ever see anything like him again. When he retires, you'll be hard-pressed to find anyone saying he isn't a Hall of Famer. He even has the hardware to back it up. A Rookie of the Year in the Grand National Series and the Cup Series in back to back seasons. He won a Grand National Series Championship back in 2009, and a Cup Series Championship back in 2015. The only reason he hasn't won one in Trucks was because NASCAR stepped in and stopped full-time Cup drivers from winning titles in the lower series. That 2015 season started with him breaking his leg and missing 11 races, and ended with him winning his only Cup title. So, congratulations on 200 wins Kyle Busch.
But you're still a long way away from catching the King.