As the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season is set to begin with Speedweeks activities this weekend at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, there seems to be more than one correlation with Kyle Busch’s car No. 18 in 2018.
Looking at the 2018 racing calendar, there appear to be a few dates that feel like more than just a coincidence. For starters, the season-opening Daytona 500 will be held Feb. 18. The Cup Series annual night race at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, a track where Busch has won six times and swept all three NASCAR national series races for the second time in his career last August, will be held Aug. 18. And finally, the championship finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway will be held on, you guessed it, Nov. 18.
Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’S Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), turns his attention to a race every stock car driver dreams of winning – the 60th annual Daytona 500. After 12 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 one of his biggest accomplishments to his already impressive resume.
Before next week’s edition of the Great American Race, the 2018 season will warm up with Sunday’s Clash at Daytona, an exhibition race 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. 18 with the Daytona 500. In addition to his three non-points-race wins at Daytona, Busch captured his first and only Daytona points-paying Cup Series win in July 2008.
Busch will look to top his strong 2017 season when he finished in the runner-up spot in the Cup Series standings, qualified for his 10th career appearance in NASCAR’s playoffs, and made the Championship 4 for the third consecutive season. Busch won five races in 2017, plus his first ever NASCAR All-Star victory, which gave him at least one win in each of his first 13 seasons.
The winner of 43 career races 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 2018 include crossing off the final track where he’s never won a points-paying race in the Cup Series – Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway.
Also for 2018, primary backer M&M’S returns for its 11th 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. Starting Friday, fans will be able to watch hourly demonstrations of the new five-man pit stop that will be used for the first time ever starting with the Daytona Speedweeks races. Activities there will include the M&M’S Tire Changer, prize wheel, sampling of M&M’S product, and an appearance by Busch himself.
Starting at Daytona, Busch will be back in the familiar yellow M&M’S scheme that has brought Busch to victory lane many times over the years. Fans can support Busch’s No. 18 with #18N18 on social media throughout the entire 2018 season.
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 crossing another item off the bucket list by adding his name as the 39th driver to grace the Harley J. Earl Trophy as Daytona 500 champion. If there’s any year of destiny for Busch’s No. 18, 2018 should be the one when it all comes together from start to finish.