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An Evolved Character, A Polished Talent. Kurt Busch's Career, Year-By-Year

From the era of Jack Roush's Gong Show to the era of Covid and Next-Gen race cars, Kurt Busch has evolved and proven to be one of the most skilled stock car racers of all-time. He's won races competing against Rusty Wallace and Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Mark Martin, a couple of Kyle's, and a slew of past Jr. champions named Dale, Sam , Ricky, and Martin.


His on-track success includes race victories ranging from 2002 to 2022. He currently holds the record for most playoff appearances of any driver in history for NASCAR's Cup Series. He's won Cup races in Chevrolet, Ford, Dodge, and Toyota for iconic team owners such as Roger Penske and Tony Stewart.


To follow is a year by year review of how a once wild character with fans and media became one of the most-loved in the garage.


  • 2000

  • Statchat: Made cup debut at Dover in September. Raced for Jack Roush Racing (RFK Racing) in a total of 7 events with a best race

  • Headlines: Cup debut.

  • 2001

  • Statchat: Competed in full season for Jack Roush Racing in the #97 Ford Taurus. Earned his first career pole at Darlington.

  • Headlines: He has noted his memories of competing against the late Dale Earnhardt Sr. in the 2001 Daytona 500 on more than one occasion.

  • 2002

  • Statchat: Earned a 3rd place overall in final championship standings as well as his first career win at Bristol Motor Speedway (his first in a Ford). Season total included 4 wins and 3 of final 5 races in the season.

  • Headlines: Feud started with NASCAR veteran Jimmy Spencer after contact at Bristol in the closing laps of the spring event. Their rivalry lasted many months and included reports of an assault from Jimmy to Kurt. They resolved their issues and appeared in TV segments together later in their careers.


Kurt's winning 'Million Dollar' Sharpie Ford that he drove to his first career Cup Series victory at Bristol in 2002. (Photo Credit: Autoweek)


  • 2003

  • Statchat: Four wins including a sweep at Bristol. Nine top fives, Fourteen top 10s and eight DNFs.

  • Headlines: His loss at Darlington over Ricky Craven came was closest margin of victory 0.002 seconds recorded in modern era. He also won the 2003 IROC Championship with a best finish of 1st at Talladega.

  • 2004

  • Statchat: NASCAR Nextel Cup Series Champion, first ever champion to win title in a playoff format. Total of 3 wins.

  • Headlines: Cup Series Champion, Kurt led the final seven weeks in the standings and survived a wheel falling off of his car in his final pit stop of the championship race at Homestead-Miami. Headlined in NASCAR Drivers: 360 television show. Competed in the 2004 IROC Championship with a best finish of 2nd at Daytona.