While everyone throughout the NASCAR world knows that Kyle Busch hails from Las Vegas, his No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) will be enjoying a homecoming of its own this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth.
Based approximately 35 miles down the road from the 1.5-mile Texas oval is Dallas-based Interstate Batteries, the official battery and founding sponsor of JGR.
Back in 1991, then-Washington Redskins head coach Joe Gibbs found himself in those very same Dallas headquarters, visiting with Interstate Batteries Chairman Norm Miller.
Gibbs was there to make his pitch to have Miller’s company sponsor the three-time Super Bowl-winning head coach’s first foray into what is now called the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. The only problem was that Gibbs had no race shop, no employees, not even a driver to drive his cars. What he was selling to Miller that day was nothing more than a dream.
During his entire business career, Miller was never shy about taking chances. And while Interstate Batteries had sponsored a few races with a little-known team with Stanley Smith as the driver, Miller and Interstate Batteries agreed to sponsor Gibbs’ team following that meeting, and JGR was formed. Fast forward to 2018 and the JGR organization that started from humble beginnings before the commitment of Interstate Batteries is widely recognized as one of the premiere teams in all of NASCAR.
Busch, the 2015 Cup Series champion, first drove the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota for JGR to victory lane at Texas in April 2013, giving the brand its first win at its home track. The win ended a streak of 19 Cup Series races in which Interstate had competed at Texas without a coveted victory. Busch followed it up with a win in the April 2016 Cup Series race at Texas, and will aim for a third Texas win during Sunday’s 500-mile race.
On top of his two Cup Series wins there, Busch is no stranger to victory lane at Texas in other NASCAR series. He reeled off an incredible string of five consecutive Xfinity Series wins there from April 2008 to April 2010, then scored three more wins in April 2013, November 2014, and April 2016. Add his three Camping World Truck Series wins in November 2009, 2010, and 2014 and Busch enters the upcoming Texas race weekend with a total of 13 NASCAR national series wins at the 1.5-mile oval.
As for 2018, Busch has come agonizingly close to a Cup Series win during the first six races of the Cup Series season on numerous occasions, already. He has notched four top-five finishes and five top-10s thus far, which includes three runner-up finishes. The strong start to the season has vaulted him into the points lead heading to Texas.
So as the Cup Series comes off its first off weekend of the season, it’s safe to say that Busch and the Interstate Batteries team are recharged and aiming to bring home their first win of the season, but also hoping to bring home a third win for hometown sponsor Interstate Batteries in the Lone Star State.