Kyle Busch, MacCachren, Lamb versatile, successful

Jimmie Johnson winning a record fourth consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup championship certainly is the motor sports story of the year.

But that doesn’t make him worthy of winning our annual racer of the year award.

That honor unquestionably goes to Kyle Busch.

Not only did the 24-year-old Las Vegas native win the NASCAR Nationwide Series championship, he dominated the Camping World Series races he entered and had a stellar run in the Cup series in the first half of the season.

Busch won 20 races in NASCAR’s three national series and did that with three crew chiefs and two motor sports organizations while driving three distinctly different race vehicles.

In Cup, he won three of the first 10 races — including the March race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway — for Joe Gibbs Racing before faltering in the second half of the season to finish 13th in points with four wins.

In the truck series, he won seven of the 15 races he entered with Billy Ballew Motorsports. In one stretch, he won five straight of the races in which he competed.

In the Nationwide series, Busch not only won nine times for Gibbs but finished second 11 times. He placed in the top five a record 25 times and led an astounding 40 percent of the 6,715 laps raced in the series.

On several weekends Busch had to fly from where the Cup series was racing to locales hosting the Nationwide series. He became the first NASCAR driver to win twice in major series on the same day when he won truck and Nationwide races Feb. 21 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif.

His season probably never will be topped.

Another national top driver award remains in Southern Nevada with veteran Rob MacCachren earning the honor of best off-road/desert racer of the year.

MacCachren, 44, won season championships in stadium and open-desert racing. He finished the Traxxas TORC Series with three straight wins to earn the Pro 2-Wheel Drive truck title with a total of five wins.

The North Las Vegas resident also claimed the overall points championship in the Southern Nevada Off Road Enthusiasts series in an open-desert racer in which he also won the Mint 400. As a last-minute entry in September’s SCORE Primm race, he placed second overall in a Trophy Truck.

Like Busch and MacCachren, Justin Lamb showed versatility in drag racing.

Lamb is our pick as tops in drag racing. The 22-year-old UNLV student and Henderson native competes part time nationally and nearly matched an NHRA milestone of winning national titles in four categories in the same year.

Lamb just missed matching the feat of Jeg Coughlin Jr. when he advanced to the championship round of Competition Eliminator at the season finale in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series in Pomona, Calif. He was runner-up in the class despite having an emergency appendectomy a few days before the race.

Southern Nevada should be proud of these native sons whose talents for driving in various classes is even more unique in an era of specialization.

Jeff Wolf’s motor sports column is published Friday. He can be reached at jwolf@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0247. Visit Wolf’s motor sports blog at lvrj.com/blogs/heavypedal throughout the week.

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