While any win on the PGA Tour is a huge accomplishment, there are four major championships golfers shoot for each season that are more special than the rest. They are professional golf’s Grand Slam, which is made up of the Masters, the U.S. Open, The Open Championship – aka British Open – and the PGA Championship.
Same goes for professional tennis, with players looking to win the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, and the U.S. Open.
While NASCAR doesn’t necessarily have four distinct “major” championships, there are four races during NASCAR’s regular season that are particularly coveted by drivers and teams, although some might argue which would be the exact four. It starts with the biggest one of them all, the season-opening Daytona 500 in February at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, also known as the Great American Race. It continues with this weekend’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway, the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in late July and, finally, the Southern 500 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway on Labor Day Weekend.
Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’S Red, White and Blue Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), has two of those major wins on his resume – the Southern 500 in 2008 and last year’s Brickyard 400. But now, Busch has his sights set on a particularly long-awaited Sprint Cup win Sunday at Charlotte. At the traditional Memorial Day-weekend Coca-Cola 600, which also happens to be NASCAR’s longest event, Busch has 13 top-10 finishes in his last 17 starts at the 1.5-mile oval, making him feel his team is closer than ever to hoisting his first trophy there.
The Coca-Cola 600 would be special because the event is at what Busch often says is his favorite racetrack. He has come close to winning a Sprint Cup event at Charlotte, but he’s yet to carry home a coveted Sprint Cup trophy from the track that is home to a majority of the NASCAR teams and is just around the corner from where Busch now lives in Mooresville, North Carolina.
Ever since his childhood in Las Vegas, some of Busch’s favorite race-watching memories came during Charlotte’s traditional Coca-Cola 600 and All-Star Race during the month of May. He dreamed that one day he, too, could be the one hoisting the trophy at one of stock car racing’s most hallowed grounds.
In his 24 previous Sprint Cup starts at Charlotte over the past 10-plus seasons, Busch has managed to enjoy plenty of success on the oval nicknamed the “Beast of the Southeast,” with 10 top-five finishes to go with his 14 overall top-10s there. In addition to solid Sprint Cup finishes, Busch has captured eight NASCAR Xfinity Series wins – May 2004, 2005, 2008 and 2010, October 2008 and 2009, and both May and October 2013. He also has six NASCAR Camping World Truck Series wins – 2005, 2006, 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2014.
On this Memorial Day weekend, Busch will sport a special Red, White and Blue M&M’S Camry promoting M&M’S partnership with Operation Gratitude and Walmart. For a limited time, fans can buy the Red, White and Blue M&M’S exclusively at Walmart. M&M’S candies were created 75 years ago as rations for our troops. During this year’s promotion, for every bag purchased by a consumer, one bag will be sent to our American troops abroad. Fans can also show their support for our troops on social media with #CelebrateWithM. More can be learned about the program at www.myconfectioncorner.com.
So, will this be the weekend that Busch finally adds another “major” to his trophy case with a long-awaited Charlotte victory? Winning NASCAR’s longest race Sunday would get Busch closer to achieving NASCAR’s version of a career grand slam.