As the “NASCAR Goes West” swing continues in what is already known as the “Valley of the Sun” at ISM Raceway near Phoenix this weekend, Kyle Busch looks to turn up the heat even more during Sunday’s TicketGuardian 500k Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race.
The Las Vegas native will feature a new product this weekend as driver of the No. 18 Skittles® Sweet Heat Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR). The new, sweet-yet-spicy candy debuted on track last fall at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois and is available at retailers nationwide.
Busch and company will head to the outskirts of Phoenix with the sharp-looking, black Skittles Sweet Heat scheme, accented with the familiar red Skittles colors that will adorn the No. 18 Toyota for three additional races this season. The Skittles brand made its NASCAR debut in 1998 in partnership with MB2 Motorsports on the No. 36 Pontiac for driver Derrike Cope. In 1999, driver Ernie Irvan took the wheel of the Skittles No. 36 Pontiac and went on to take the top starting spot in the prestigious Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Most recently, Busch delivered back-to-back Brickyard 400 victories for Skittles in 2015 and 2016 with candy-splashed victory lane celebrations for the Skittles brand.
After bringing home a strong runner-up spot last weekend at his hometown Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Busch is looking to score his first win of the season and automatically seal a berth in this year’s NASCAR playoffs.
The desert setting of Phoenix was a favorite place to wheel a racecar for Busch long before he joined the Cup Series ranks. Starting with a solid eighth-place finish in his very first Cup Series outing there in the spring of 2005, followed by just his second career Cup Series victory in his very next start there that fall, he’s had many strong runs at the one-mile oval. Coincidentally, Busch’s first Cup Series win came just 10 races prior in another desert-like setting not far from his hometown of Las Vegas – Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, where the NASCAR Goes West swing will conclude next week.
In 25 Cup Series starts at the mile oval known as the “Diamond in the Desert,” Busch has one win and an impressive 17 top-10 finishes, including four in a row from the spring 2007 through fall 2008 events, and he won the pole for the spring 2006 race. After leading twice for a race-high 114 laps last March, a late-race caution caused him to finish a disappointing third after a dominant day. Busch will look to get his first Cup Series win with JGR at Phoenix this weekend.
So as the Cup Series moves on to the second of three consecutive races out West, Busch hopes his Skittles Sweet Heat scheme will be just what he needs to help deliver his first victory of the season and continue his hot streak racing in the Valley of the Sun.