The Power Stroke Diesel 200 in August 2001 at what is now O'Reilly Raceway Park in Indiana was a fairly unremarkable truck series race. Won by journeyman Jack Sprague, it featured everyone from Willy T. Ribbs to Coy Gibbs, from the late Ricky Hendrick to Morgan Shepherd. And in the mix was a 16-year-old kid running in his very first NASCAR race, a kid who battled his way from a 23rd-place start to a ninth-place finish.
Who was that kid? Come on, you read the headline, didn't you?
This Friday, Kyle Busch returns to ORP for the AAA Insurance 200. The first time he was here, he was driving for Jack Roush; this time, he's driving for himself. And since that auspicious debut, he's won 73 times in NASCAR's top three divisions and collected a Nationwide championship. He might have had even more had NASCAR not temporarily sidelined him early in his career, ruling after six starts that the minimum age for drivers in NASCAR's top series had to be 18.
Even so, he's an all-growed-up man now -- though, yes, some would disagree with that -- and while he's not competing himself full-time in the truck series, his team is. He sits in third place in owner's points, 32 points behind Germain's 30 and 10 behind Kevin Harvick's 2.
For Kyle, getting behind the wheel is a slam-dunk, barring catastrophe. He'd better hope that the next Kyle Busch isn't lurking deep in the field.