Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 Skittles Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), is known as quite the candy man himself. He’s wearing the bright, red colors of Skittles this weekend at the half-mile bullring known as Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, while also sporting the colorful and iconic candy brands throughout the rest of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season with fellow Mars products such as M&M’S Crispy and SNICKERS.
As Busch has proven in just the 12 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races he’s competed in thus far in 2015, the candy man can. After suffering leg and foot injuries at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway in February, Busch was forced to sit out the first 11 races of the season. What he has done since his return is nothing short of amazing. In those 12 starts, Busch has racked up four wins, five top-five finishes and six top-10s and has put himself in position to punch his ticket to this year’s Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship playoffs. With his four wins, all Busch now needs to do is stay in the top-30 in driver points. Last weekend at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, he expanded the margin to 31st-place Cole Whitt to 23 points with three regular-season races remaining.
Another thing the candy man can do is win races in bunches at northeast Tennessee’s “Thunder Valley,” site of Saturday’s annual Irwin Tools Night Race. Busch has five Sprint Cup wins at Bristol while also recording eight top-five finishes and 12 top-10s in 20 career Sprint Cup starts. Amazingly enough, Busch won three of the four Sprint Cup races at the .533-mile short track in 2009 and 2010.
The driver of the Skittles Camry will look to repeat an impressive feat that occurred during that stretch, when he posted the first “triple” in NASCAR history by winning the Sprint Cup, Xfinity, 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, as he makes his only attempt at all three races in a weekend during the 2015 season.
While Busch is 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 his record since then at the “World’s Fastest Half-Mile” has been impressive to say the least. 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, the candy man flying the red Skittles colors certainly can add another Bristol trophy to the collection during what has already been an amazing season of tragedy to triumph.