What to get a guy for his birthday who seemingly has everything?
That guy happens to be Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 Skittles/Marvel Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), owner of 36 first-place trophies in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition and 161 winner’s trophies in all among NASCAR’s top three series. For Busch, the answer is quite simple – more trophies and, perhaps a slice of birthday cake made with Skittles?
Busch blows out the candles to celebrate his 31st birthday Monday and would like nothing more than to start the celebration in victory lane at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway as the winner of Sunday’s Geico 500 Sprint Cup event. The race will also mark Busch’s 400th career Sprint Cup start, and there are six drivers who scored victories in their 400th career start, with Jimmie Johnson the most recent one to do it when he won the 2013 Daytona 500. Interestingly enough, Busch brought home the victory at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth in 2013 while making his 300th Sprint Cup start.
Even though Busch’s birthday isn’t until the day after race day this year, he does hold the distinction of being only the second driver in Sprint Cup history to celebrate a victory on his birthday with a win at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway on May 2, 2009, a feat first accomplished by Cale Yarborough – twice. Yarborough won on his March 27 birthday at North Wilkesboro (N.C.) Speedway in 1977 and at Atlanta Motor Speedway in 1983. Since then, Busch’s JGR teammate Matt Kenseth equaled the feat as he won in 2013 on his March 10 birthday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
As for this weekend, Busch has conquered the mammoth, 2.66-mile Talladega oval just once in 21 career starts at the track, his lone win coming in April 2008. He has accumulated nine other top-15 finishes at the track but also exited four outings early due to accidents.
Busch knows the winner of Sunday’s 500-mile race will not only need to have a strong car, but must be in the right place at the right time during the final laps on NASCAR’s longest track. So, if anyone is considering what to get Busch as a belated birthday gift, any help earning a second career Talladega trophy would be greatly appreciated. And having the Skittles colors to celebrate with in victory lane would make for one “sweet” birthday weekend.