When the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to the half-mile bullring at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, many naturally look to Kyle Busch as the driver to beat in northeast Tennessee’s “Thunder Valley.”
Busch has five Sprint Cup wins at Bristol while also recording eight top-five finishes and 12 top-10s in 19 career Sprint Cup starts.
But, looking at his most recent starts at Bristol, while he still has had several solid finishes, his record isn’t as strong as it was in 2009 and 2010, when he won three of the four races at the .533-mile short track those two seasons.
Iconic chewing gum brand Doublemint – which happens to be celebrating its 100th anniversary this year – will be along for the ride on Busch’s Sprint Cup Toyota in Saturday night’s Irwin Tools Night Race.
Saturday night’s event will mark the first of two races in 2014 that Doublemint will serve as primary sponsor for Busch. The brand’s mint paint scheme will also adorn Busch’s No. 18 Toyota at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway in October.
The driver of the No. 18 Doublemint Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) will look to repeat an impressive feat from 2010, when he posted the first “triple’ in NASCAR history by winning the Sprint Cup, Nationwide, and Camping World Truck Series races that week. Busch will again compete in all three races this week, starting with Wednesday’s Truck Series race.
While he’s a factor any time he travels to Bristol, it’s interesting to note Busch didn’t immediately take to the place. During his rookie year in 2005, he posted finishes of 28th and 33rd. But Busch’s record in his last 15 starts at the “World’s Fastest Half-Mile” has been nothing short of amazing. After bringing home finishes of eighth and second in 2006, Busch captured his first Bristol Sprint Cup win in March 2007. The track was resurfaced after that race and, from 2008 to 2011, nobody has been better at the concrete short track than Busch. He scored four wins and six top-10s from 2008 until another change to the track surface prior to the August 2012 race weekend. Busch is looking to recapture the magic from his four years of dominance there on the current surface.
So as Busch goes for his sixth career Sprint Cup win at Bristol Saturday night, he’ll hope a “fresh” start wearing Doublemint colors at the “The Last Great Colosseum” will help him add to his gaudy statistics there.