Kyle Busch returns this weekend to the place where it all began – Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’s Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), headed to the fourth NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race of 2008 aiming to bring home his first win for two new partners at Atlanta – Mars Chocolate North America and Toyota.
After leading a race-high 173 laps, the Las Vegas native captured his first win for Mars’ SNICKERS brand, and also the first win in NASCAR’s top series for Toyota, which was in its second year of Sprint Cup competition and its first year with JGR, as was Busch.
The win also marked the end to a 147-race drought for JGR’s No. 18 team, as well as Busch’s first of 23 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series wins for JGR. Since then, Busch’s has also totaled 99 overall wins among NASCAR’s top three series driving Toyota vehicles in Sprint Cup (23), Nationwide (49), and Camping World Truck (27). Add 21 overall wins prior to joining JGR at the beginning of 2008, and Busch is at 120 combined Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Truck Series wins and counting.
With that in mind, the driver of the No. 18 M&M’s Toyota Camry for JGR and his entire team will be rolling up their collective sleeves and getting to work this Labor Day weekend in hopes of reaching Busch’s 100-win milestone for Toyota. They’ll hope to rekindle their 2008 magic at Atlanta as the series returns for Sunday night’s AdvoCare 500 Sprint Cup race.
Busch heads into Atlanta fifth in the standings and, with his three Sprint Cup wins, he’s all but assured a spot in the 12-driver, 10-race Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship with two races remaining before the Chase begins Sept. 16 at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill. So, with a Chase berth imminent, Busch and his M&M’s team will look to make the necessary gambles to get another win, which would add another three bonus points at the start of NASCAR’s playoffs.
With the Chase just three weekends away, Busch and Company will undoubtedly be feeling just a bit nostalgic, pondering their 2008 weekend at Atlanta as they look to reach yet another milestone, at the place where it all began.