With four top-five finishes and five top-10s in the first six races of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season, Kyle Busch led the points heading into last weekend’s race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth – no doubt a very strong start to the season.
But for Busch, driver of the No. 18 Skittles Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), three runner-up finishes and a third-place finish in the races just prior to Texas proved highly frustrating as he had come so agonizingly close to his first win of the year four weekends in a row.
However, as the NASCAR Cup Series heads to Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway for Sunday’s Food City 500, Busch will be returning to the .533-mile high-banked oval as the most recent winner in NASCAR’s top series as he finally broke through last weekend at Texas with his third career win there.
This weekend, Busch and his team head to Bristol, another place where he has multiple wins, looking to start a win streak. And they have every reason to feel confident since the Bristol bullring and next weekend’s race stop at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway are among his strongest tracks on the circuit.
Last August, Busch not only brought home his sixth series win at Bristol, breaking a tie with brother Kurt Busch for the most wins there among active drivers, he also swept all three races (Cup, Xfinity and Camping World Truck) for the second time in his career.
In addition to his six career Cup Series wins, Busch has notched nine top-fives and 14 top-10s in 25 career starts at Northeast Tennessee’s “Thunder Valley.” Three of Busch’s Cup wins there came over a four-race span in 2009 and 2010.
While he is one of the favorites to win any time he travels to Bristol, it’s interesting to note Busch didn’t immediately take to the place. During his rookie year in 2005, he posted finishes of 28th and 33rd. But his record since then has been impressive, to say the least. After bringing home finishes of eighth and second in 2006, Busch captured his first Bristol Cup Series win in March 2007. The track was resurfaced after that race and, from 2008 to 2011, nobody has been better at the concrete short track than Busch. He scored four wins and six top-10s from 2008 until another change to the track surface prior to the August 2012 race weekend. Busch seems to have recaptured the magic from his four years of dominance there into a new era of strong runs there.
So as Busch and the Skittles team head to the Bristol Bullring this weekend, they’ll hope last weekend’s Texas win is just the start of something big. Another checkered flag at a Bristol track that has treated him quite well over the years is certainly possible.