The list of racetracks where Kyle Busch has yet to win in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is not long.
In fact, there are only two left on that list – Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway and Pocono (Pa.) Raceway, the site of Sunday’s Axalta “We Paint Winners” 400 Sprint Cup Series race.
So as the Sprint Cup competitors head to the Pocono Mountains for the first of two races there in an eight-week span that also signals the beginning of the summer stretch of races, Busch and the No. 18 M&M’S 75th Anniversary Toyota Camry team for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) are looking to get one win closer to adding his name to the record books yet again. Busch has already crossed off two first time Sprint Cup tracks with wins this year – Martinsville (Va.) Speedway and Kansas Speedway in Kansas City – and continues to add to his already impressive resume.
Other drivers have come close to accomplishing the feat Busch has in his sights. Four-time series champion Jeff Gordon retired after the 2015 season and was one short of the feat as he fell short of winning at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta in five career starts there. Three-time champion Tony Stewart, who will retire at the end of this season, also has yet to win at Kentucky and is still chasing his first win at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway, as well.
Looking back at his most recent trip to the 2.5-mile triangle at Pocono last July, Busch was less than one lap away from crossing the track off his yet-to-win list. The Las Vegas native hit town on a three-race winning streak and led three times for 19 laps, including taking the white flag as the leader. With his fourth consecutive race win in his sights, having pushed hard in swapping the lead with Joey Logano during the day’s final run, Busch pushed his fuel tank just a bit too far as he ran out of gas coming out of turn one. While he eventually coasted across the finish line, his JGR teammate Matt Kenseth benefited from Busch’s misfortune and brought home the win.
While Pocono has been difficult for Busch to master for the first six years of his Sprint Cup career, he seemed to have turned a corner there starting in June 2011, when he started from the pole – his first at Pocono – and was beaten across the finish line only by teammate and Pocono master Denny Hamlin, who has four wins to his credit at “The Tricky Triangle.” In August 2011, Busch led 27 laps late in the race before equaling his career-best Pocono finish of second behind race-winner Brad Keselowski. While he brought home top-10 finishes in both 2013 races at Pocono, Busch and the M&M’S team are striving for even bigger things at the 2.5-mile track after running well the last two years but not getting the finishes they deserved, especially last year’s fuel-mileage heartbreak.
As the series heads back to the Pocono Mountains for Sunday’s 400-miler, summer school will be in session for Busch, crew chief Adam Stevens and the entire M&M’S team. They’ll look to cross another track off the list for Busch as he works to accomplish something nobody else has in NASCAR Sprint Cup history – win at every single active track.