With the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series taking a rare weekend off for the final time in 2017, many teams, drivers and industry personnel took off for the beach this past week to get in one last bit of rest before the final 12-week stretch of the regular season and playoff run that starts in mid-September.
Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’S Caramel Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), is hoping to pick back up right where he left off before this past weekend’s break in the action. The Las Vegas native headed into the off weekend quite the happy driver as he not only won the series’ most recent race at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, but swept the entire weekend’s races in NASCAR’s top three series for the second time in his career.
The Cup Series win at Bristol, Busch’s second over the last four races in NASCAR’s top series, has him and the M&M’S Caramel team feeling like they’re starting to peak at the right time with just two regular-season races remaining and the playoffs about to begin.
As the series heads to historic Darlington (S.C.) Raceway for Sunday night’s Bojangles’ Southern 500, the 2015 NASCAR Cup Series champion will look to build a huge wave of momentum heading into the final stretch of the season. Starting in 1950, the traditional Southern 500 at Darlington was held every Labor Day weekend. In 2004, the race was moved to the penultimate race of the season during the first year of NASCAR’s playoffs before it was eventually moved to the Saturday of Mother’s Day weekend, where the Southern 500 name was brought back starting in 2009. In 2015, the race returned to its rightful and traditional spot on the calendar after a 12-year hiatus. Sunday night’s race will mark the 57th time NASCAR’s top series will race in Darlington, South Carolina on Labor Day weekend.
The M&M’S Caramel driver has conquered Darlington before, having brought home a big win at “The Track Too Tough to Tame” in May 2008. His first victory at Darlington earned him the distinction of being the youngest Cup Series winner – at 23 years of age – in the storied history of Darlington. Busch also has two Xfinity Series wins at Darlington, coming in May 2011 and 2013.
So, as Busch returns to “The Lady in Black” to compete in Sunday’s traditional Southern 500, he and the M&M’S Caramel team look to bring home their second win in what many consider to be one of NASCAR’s crown jewel races.