Race Weekend Central

NASCAR 101: Cup Invaders on the Truck & Xfinity Levels

Kyle Busch has a bounty over his head. We all know that.

We know that Kevin Harvick stirred this pot. We now know who the first driver is to take Harvick up on said bounty, followed by Kyle Larson.

We also know that Busch continues to whip the Truck Series competition.

What you may not know is, nearly 70 others have followed the same path.

In fact, 68 drivers have won either a NASCAR Xfinity Series race or a NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series race while competing full time in the NASCAR Cup Series. While not all of these drivers may have shown such dominance in a single event, that are still plenty of opinions that boil over when a Cup driver enters an undercard race and wins.

These opinions are debated, even in today’s era of professional racing. No matter the positive or negative spin these opinions take, it’s worth noting that all the clamor around this debate shows how good the top drivers in stock car racing really are.

Of the aforementioned 68 drivers, Busch has obviously the most combined NXS and Truck wins with 153. Did I mention how good these drivers are? But only five (2.67%) of those 153 victories came when Busch was not running full time in Cup. While he may have stolen 148 victories, as some people might put it, there have plenty of others who should not be left out.

Mark Martin won 56 combined times in NXS and Trucks, but only four (7.14%) of them came when Martin was not a Cup driver. Let’s also take the man who issued the bounty. Only 4.91% of Harvick’s NXS and Truck wins came before he became a full-timer in 2001.

Busch and Harvick are among 17 active Cup drivers who have invaded the two lower national series and won. That’s nearly half of a normal Cup field today, including all four Joe Gibbs Racing drivers, three of the four Stewart-Haas Racing drivers and the three Team Penske drivers.

However, some didn’t quite follow the trend. Although he did win some as a full-time Cup competitor, only nine of Dale Earnhardt Jr.‘s 24 NXS wins came after he joined the Cup Series in 2000. While Earnhardt’s winning percentage may have been against the norm, we don’t have to look far to see the pattern once again.

Dale Earnhardt’s 21 NXS victories all came when he was on the top step of NASCAR racing. The elder Earnhardt even won the first-ever official NXS race as a Cup invader.

However, the large Cup rookie class today may be different though. Christopher Bell has 16 NXS wins, all of which came before he moved to Cup. Tyler Reddick and Cole Custer are in the same boat with nine NXS wins apiece. This trio had been rapidly ascending up the all-time Xfinity wins list without the aid or distraction of being a so-called invader.

They now all have Cup rides, and they don’t have any undercard races planned anywhere on the horizon. How did they get these rides? Well, they obviously had to prove their talents in the lower series, and if history shows us anything, these lower series are hotbeds for Cup talent to chase low hanging fruit.

Yet Bell, Reddick and Custer managed to rise above the distractions of the big guns, outrun them and proved they could get a shot at the top level of auto racing. Maybe this recent example shows how good one must be to actually make it to the top. Once you’re there, you clinched greatness and that can allow you the freedom to chase wins in other series, as Busch has discovered.

Here is a complete list of the most NXS and Truck wins by a driver who was an active full-time Cup driver at the same time:

Driver Total NXS wins as a full-time Cup driver
Kyle Busch 91
Mark Martin 45
Kevin Harvick 44
Carl Edwards 38
Brad Keselowski 34
Joey Logano 29
Jeff Burton 23
Matt Kenseth 22
Harry Gant 21
Dale Earnhardt 21
 Denny Hamlin 17
 Joe Nemechek 14
 Kyle Larson 12
 Greg Biffle 11
 Morgan Shepherd 11
 Tony Stewart 11
 Michael Waltrip 11
Terry Labonte 11
 Jimmy Spencer  10
 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 9
 Dale Jarrett 9
Austin Dillon 7
 Kasey Kahne 7
 Clint Bowyer 6
 Jamie McMurray  6
 Ryan Newman  6
 Bobby Labonte 5
 Geoff Bodine 5
 Todd Bodine  4
Marcos Ambrose 4
 Kurt Busch 4
 Erik Jones 3
 Ryan Blaney 3
 Ernie Irvan 3
Jeff Green 2
 Steve Grissom 2
Jeff Gordon 2
Aric Almirola 2
Paul Menard 2
 David Ragan 2
 Rick Wilson 2
 Dick Trickle 2
 Bobby Allison 2
 Bobby Hillin Jr 2
 Tim Richmond 2
 Ron Bouchard 2
 Ken Schrader 2
Darrell Waltrip 2
 Martin Truex Jr 1
 Kenny Wallace 1
 Regan Smith 1
 Reed Sorenson 1
 Chase Elliott 1
 Sterling Marlin 1
 Michael McDowell 1
 Joe Ruttman 1
 Casey Mears 1
 Mike Skinner 1
 Neil Bonnett 1
 Juan Pablo Montoya 1
 Ricky Rudd 1
Derrike Cope 1
 Dave Blaney 1
 Bill Elliott 1
 Robby Gordon 1


Driver Total NGROTS wins as a full-time NCS driver
Kyle Busch 57
Kevin Harvick 14
Mark Martin 7
 Kasey Kahne 5
Clint Bowyer 3
 Denny Hamlin 2
 Tony Stewart 2
 Austin Dillon 2
Bobby Hamilton 2
Brad Keselowski 1
Elliott Sadler 1
 Kyle Larson 1
 Jimmy Spencer 1
 Terry Labonte 1
 Bobby Labonte 1
Jamie McMurray 1
 Ryan Newman 1
 Chase Elliott 1
 Ken Schrader 1
 Joey Logano 1

About the author

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Never at a loss for words, Zach Gillispie is a young, talented marketing professional from North Carolina who talks and writes on the side about his first love: racing! Since joining Frontstretch in 2018, Zach has served in numerous roles where he currently pens the NASCAR 101 column, a weekly piece delving into the basic nuts and bolts of the sport. Additionally, his unabashedly bold takes meshed with that trademarked dry wit of his have made Zach a fan favorite on the weekly Friday Faceoff panel. In his free time, he can be found in the great outdoors, actively involved in his church, cheering on his beloved Atlanta Braves or ruthlessly pestering his colleagues with completely useless statistics about Delma Cowart.

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