Over the past two seasons, Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’S Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), has made significant progress on his bucket list within the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.
Along with bringing home his first NASCAR Cup Series championship in 2015, Busch has brought home back-to-back Brickyard 400 wins in 2015 and 2016 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and a victory in the 2008 Southern 500 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway.
With those items checked off the list entering his 13th full-time season in NASCAR’s top series, Busch turns his attention to a race every stock car driver dreams of winning – the Daytona 500. After 11 career starts in the “Great American Race,” Busch is still searching for his first victory in NASCAR’s season-opening event and he looks to add the ultimate bucket list item to his resume.
When it comes to NASCAR, there aren’t many traditions that run deeper than kicking off each new season with Speedweeks at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, which this year culminates Feb. 26 with the 59th running of the Daytona 500.
Before next week’s edition of the Great American Race, the 2017 season will warm up with Saturday night’s non-points Advance Auto Parts Clash, which Busch won in 2012. It continues through next week’s Can-Am Duel qualifying races. Busch won his Duel qualifying race in 2009, 2013 and 2016. Then, the official NASCAR Cup Series season begins in earnest Feb. 26 with the Daytona 500. In addition to his three non-points race wins at Daytona, Busch captured his first and only Daytona points-paying Sprint Cup win in July 2008.
Busch will look to top his strong season from one year ago when he finished third in the Cup Series standings, qualified for his ninth career appearance in NASCAR’s playoffs, and made the Championship 4 for the second consecutive season. Busch won four races in 2016, which gave him at least one win in each of his first 12 seasons. The Las Vegas native also tied his 2008 career-high 17 top-five finishes and career-high 25 top-10s last season.
The 38-race winner in NASCAR’s Cup Series will look to continue to win races and vie for another championship, with a few other goals still left to accomplish. Along with a Daytona 500 victory and a return to the Championship 4, Busch’s goals for 2017 include crossing off two tracks where he’s never won in the Cup Series – Pocono (Pa.) Raceway and Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway.
Also for 2017, primary backer M&M’S returns for its ninth season with Busch and the colorful M&M’S Toyota. M&M’S will have its fan pit stop experience on site during Speedweeks at Daytona at the base of the Toyota Injector. Activities there will include the M&M’S Tire Changer, prize wheel, sampling of M&M’S product and the No. 18 M&M’S show car on-site for fan photo opportunities.
So, as Busch and his No. 18 M&M’S Camry head back to Daytona for another edition of Daytona Speedweeks, his sights will be set on checking off another item on the bucket list by adding his name as the 38th driver to grace the Harley J. Earl Trophy as Daytona 500 champion.