As the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth for Sunday’s AAA Texas 500, Kyle Busch and his No. 18 M&M’S Toyota team for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) continue to follow the blueprint as the 2018 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs hit the homestretch.
Why is that the case? With just three races remaining in the Cup Series season, Busch and his team are very much in the championship battle, and a win Sunday at Texas would punch his ticket to the Championship 4 showdown at Homestead-Miami Speedway in two weeks.
In each of his last three playoff runs, Busch and his M&M’S team have successfully followed their blueprint to the Championship 4 at Homestead by steadily advancing through each playoff round via solid finishes, his first Championship 4 appearance in 2015 resulting in that year’s championship. With his sights on his fourth straight visit to the Cup Series finale as championship eligible, Busch has brought home seven top-10 finishes in the first seven playoff races this season, including a solid fourth-place finish to kick off the Round of 8 Sunday at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.
After winning this year’s April race at Texas, Busch looks to also follow the blueprint from that impressive weekend as he attempts to bring home his fourth career Texas Cup Series win. He’s certainly been trending in the right direction at the 1.5-mile oval with seven top-five finishes in his last 10 starts there. He has 26 career Texas starts with 12 top-five finishes.
Along with his three Cup Series wins at Texas, Busch been a frequent visitor to victory lane in most everything he’s raced there. He reeled off an incredible string of five consecutive Xfinity Series wins at Texas from April 2008 to 2010 and added three more for a total of eight Xfinity Series wins there. Add his three NASCAR Camping World Truck Series wins in November 2009, 2010 and 2014 and it’s no wonder Busch is feeling good about his chances of reaching victory lane yet again Sunday.
The Las Vegas native sits atop the standings heading into Sunday’s second race of the Round of 8. Joey Logano punched his ticket to the four-driver, winner-take-all championship shootout at Homestead by virtue of his win at Martinsville last weekend. Now, Busch sits 49 points above the fifth-place cutline and will look to either solidify his position among the top four drivers in the playoff standings or, better yet, automatically punch his own ticket to the championship round with a win Sunday.
So while Busch and his M&M’S team look to add yet another signature cowboy hat and six-shooters as race winners in the Lone Star State to their steadily growing trophy collection, Busch and his team will continue to follow the blueprint that got them to the Championship 4 during the last three playoff runs by shooting for at least a solid finish Sunday. If all goes according to plan, they once again may be the ones with the best chance to hoist the Cup Series championship trophy down in South Florida in two weeks.