Aside from NASCAR’s biggest events like the Daytona 500 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway and the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, a win at the hometown racetrack is high on the priority list for many in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.
Las Vegas native Kyle Busch crossed off an all-important hometown win in just his fifth NASCAR Cup Series start at his hometown Las Vegas Motor Speedway, site of Sunday’s Kobalt 400.
The driver of the No. 18 M&M’S Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) and 2002 honors graduate of Las Vegas’ Durango High School would like to double his number of Cup Series wins at the 1.5-mile oval after he brought home that emotional first win there in 2009.
Driving the yellow M&M’S Toyota that day, Busch qualified on the pole but was forced to start at the rear of the field because the team needed to change engines during Friday practice. Unfazed, Busch remained patient on race day as he and the M&M’S team worked their way to the front of the field by the 54th lap. Busch went on to lead three times for 51 laps en route to claiming what he called at the time the biggest win of his young career.
While that win was special, Busch already was no stranger to winning on Las Vegas Motor Speedway property. From 1999 to 2001, he earned more than 65 wins in Legends cars while racking up two track championships at the facility’s “Bullring,” which existed for several years before the 1.5-mile oval was built. Busch eventually moved up to Late Model Stock cars and his winning ways continued as he captured 10 victories in Late Model competition at the Bullring in 2001.
In addition to celebrations at the Bullring and the aforementioned 2009 Cup Series win in his hometown, Busch came agonizingly close last year to bringing home his second Cup Series win in the shadows of his childhood home. An incredible restart vaulted Busch from sixth to the lead of last year’s Las Vegas race with less than 40 laps to go. However, a vibration that turned out to be a loose wheel caused Busch to lose the lead with five laps to go. It was a tough pill to swallow as he had another Vegas celebration in his sights.
This weekend, Mars brand Ethel M Chocolate, which has a factory and store located in nearby Henderson, Nevada, will also get into the act. Not only will Ethel M have its logo adorn the rear decklid of the No. 18 M&M’S Toyota, it will also sport decals for the Kyle Busch Chocolate Collection in honor of Busch’s return to his hometown.
The Kyle Busch Chocolate Collection is a limited, 16-piece chocolate assortment featuring Busch’s favorite Ethel M specialties. Wrapped in custom NASCAR-branded packaging, the collection is available for fans to purchase online at www.ethelm.com, and at Ethel M locations, including its factory store in Henderson, at McCarran Airport Boutique, and at M&M’S World® on Las Vegas Boulevard. Busch will also visit the Ethel M location in Las Vegas Thursday for an exclusive question-and-answer session at 4 p.m. PST.
So as Busch returns to Las Vegas this weekend, the only thing that will be sweeter than winning his first Cup Series race there would be winning a second one as Busch looks to avenge the tough finish to the 2016 race and add another Vegas trophy to his list of accomplishments.