PHOENIX — Joe Gibbs has spent his career watching Hall of Fame-caliber athletes ply their trades, whether as a Super Bowl-winning coach in Washington or the title-winning owner of a race team.

In his mind, what separates them from a run-of-the-mill star is an insatiable will to succeed, the drive that allows them to reach the next level. They set goals, sometimes absurdly difficult to reach, then spend every ounce of sweat and blood to reach them.

Goals like 200 wins in NASCAR’s top three series.

With Kyle Busch one win away from that milestone following his weekend sweep of the Xfinity and Cup series races, his 78-year-old owner is ready to group him with the elites.

“I think he’s driven by big things like that, by records,” Gibbs said. “I know how bad he wants to win every race because I can pick up from him talking how bad he wants things. He’s driven by trying to do something great, so I think it will be a big deal for him.”

Busch will have two opportunities to reach the milestone this weekend at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. He will be back in his Xfinity ride seeking his third straight win in the series, then will hop in his No. 18 Toyota to chase his 53rd win in NASCAR’s top series – a far cry from when “Rowdy” made his Trucks Series debut as a 16-year-old in 2001.

“It’s pretty incredible, honestly, with what he’s done in the modern day to be able to do that,” said Joey Logano, one of his former teammates. “I know he’s got a lot of Cup wins to go with the Xfinity and Truck wins, but the Cup wins, to me, are the most impressive part – that he’s able to do that.”

After a couple of feeling-out rides for Hendrick Motorsports in 2004, Busch jumped into a full-time ride. He won twice in 2005, finished in the top 10 in points the following season and continued his march toward the pinnacle of his sport.

He moved to Joe Gibbs Racing in 2008 and won seven times, and captured the series championship four years ago by winning the year-end race at Homestead. Just about the only trophy he’s missing is the Daytona 500.

Busch has built a 77,000-square foot facility that houses his own race team, along with most of the hardware he’s won. Trophies are stacked upon top of other trophies, and the cases that house his Bristol wins are particularly full.

“We’ve got our fair share of trophy cases we’ve gone through,” he said with a smile, “and every time we get a new one we seem to fill it up. They’re all over the place.”

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