As the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season is set to begin with Speedweeks activities this weekend at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, Kyle Busch has turned his attention to filling the final empty spot in his trophy case.
The trophy that Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’S Chocolate Bar Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), is hoping to finally secure is the Harley J. Earl Trophy that goes annually to the Daytona 500 winner as he makes his 14th career start in the “Great American Race” slated to run Sunday, Feb. 17.
Busch is still searching for his first victory in NASCAR’s season-opening event, which would be one of the biggest accomplishments on his already impressive resume. The important race wins already checked off the list is housed in a large trophy case built at his Kyle Busch Motorsports race shop. The list starts with his 2015 NASCAR Cup Series championship trophy, along wins in crown jewel races starting with the Southern 500 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway in 2008, back-to-back Brickyard 400s at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2015 and 2016, and last year’s first Cup points-paying win at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway in the Coca-Cola 600 on Memorial Day weekend.
Along with his Coca-Cola 600 win at Charlotte that made him the first driver to win a Cup race at every track on the schedule, Busch added a few milestones to an already Hall of Fame-worthy career in 2018, including notching his 50th Cup Series win at Richmond (Va.) Raceway in September and bringing home career-high totals of 22 top-five finishes and 28-top-10s, along with tying his 2008 career high of eight victories in a season. Busch’s strong 2018 season netted a fourth-place finish in the final Cup Series standings after his 11th career appearance in NASCAR’s playoffs and fourth consecutive appearance in the Championship 4. Busch’s eight wins also continued his streak of at least one win in each of his first 14 seasons.
The 2015 NASCAR Cup Series champion will be sporting an M&M’S Chocolate Bar scheme on his No. 18 Toyota for NASCAR’s season-opening race, as the new permanent addition to the brand’s iconic candy lineup will be highlighted throughout Daytona Speedweeks. The M&M’S Chocolate Bar consists of smooth milk chocolate with whole M&M’S Minis visible in a large bar format and available nationwide in five flavors: Peanut, Milk Chocolate, Crispy, Almond and Crispy Mint. In addition to the M&M’S Chocolate Bar, the M&M’S brand returns for its 12th season in 2019 with Busch and other Mars Wrigley Confectionery U.S. products, which include SNICKERS, Skittles and PEDIGREE.
The M&M’S Chocolate Bar Toyota will be on track throughout 2019 Speedweeks in lead-up to next week’s edition of the “Great American Race.” It starts 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. 17 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.
The winner of 51 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 2019 include securing his second Cup Series championship and earning his 200th overall win in NASCAR’s top three series – he starts the season with 194.
So, as Busch and his No. 18 M&M’S Chocolate Bar Camry head back to Daytona for another edition of Daytona Speedweeks, his sights will be set on adding the last important trophy to his collection by becoming the 40th driver to grace the Harley J. Earl Trophy as Daytona 500 champion.