Like It Or Not, Kyle Busch Is Now NASCAR's Modern Day Dale Earnhardt

Kyle Busch is the closest thing modern NASCAR fans are going to get to Dale Earnhardt.

Yep. May be tough to hear. May be a tough pill to swallow. You may not like it, agree with it, admit it or accept it.

But Busch - who will drive for Earnhardt's old boss, Richard Childress, next season - may be the closest thing any NASCAR fan ever gets to seeing The Intimidator on the track again.

And before you crucify me ... I ain't the only one saying it!

"When I was up there talking with Kyle, and we were talking about championships and winning races ... I looked at him in the eye, and I had seen that look in Dale Earnhardt Sr.'s eye," Childress said earlier this week.

"I had seen that look before. He's hungry. He's going to win."

Dale Earnhardt won six NASCAR championships with RCR

Childress and Earnhardt won six NASCAR championships together -  the last coming in 1994. Earnhardt died in 2001, and when Kevin Harvick left RCR after the 2013 season it became pretty apparent that Childress may never win one again.

Until now.

Busch, 36, is a two-time champ, has 60 Cup wins and over 200 wins across all three NASCAR series.

You'd be foolish to think the idea of joining a team once ruled by Dale Earnhardt didn't play at least a small role in his decision.

"I may or may not have asked about the 3," Busch said of his weeks-long negotiations with RCR. "But I let it go."

Dillon, Childress' grandson, has driven Earnhardt's old No. 3 for nearly a decade and will most likely be in that seat for as long as he wants it.

While Busch ultimately settled for the No. 8 - I hear another Earnhardt once drove that number - it doesn't mean Childress disagrees with Busch's desire to be RCR's "next Earnhardt."

Frankly, he recognizes it more than anyone out there.

"I think Kyle Busch has that modern day style that Dale Earnhardt had," Childress said. 

Which begs the follow-up question ...

Can Kyle Busch pass Dale Earnhardt on NASCAR all-time wins list?

Can Busch not only catch, but pass Earnhardt on the all-time wins list?

Earnhardt won his 76th and final race in Oct. 2000 at Talladega. Busch won his 60th career Cup race earlier this season at Bristol.

At 36, Busch appears to be hitting more of a career reset with his move to RCR, and the deal is for multiple years, so he's not going anywhere, any time soon.

RCR - and Chevrolet in general - also appear to have a decent grip on the new Next Gen car, so Busch should be able to step right in and take off.

Can he win 17 races over the next, say, five seasons? It won't be easy, but it's certainly doable - especially if Busch recaptures the magic he had from 2015-2019, where he won at least four races a year.

That's all for down the road.

For now, Busch must navigate the final eight races of 2022 with Joe Gibbs Racing, where he admitted this week he may be a "lameduck" driver with one foot already in the RCR door.

Something tells me he's OK with, though. After months of speculation, Busch's NASCAR future is finally clear. And it appears he made the perfect decision.

"Why not Kyle Busch?" Childress responded when asked why he brought in the 36-year-old free agent. "We're going to be together for the long haul."




Written by
Zach grew up in Florida, lives in Florida, and will never leave Florida ... for obvious reasons. He's a reigning fantasy football league champion, knows everything there is to know about NASCAR, and once passed out (briefly!) during a lap around Daytona. He swears they were going 200 mph even though they clearly were not.