As the “NASCAR Goes West” swing continues in what is already known as the “Valley of the Sun” this weekend at ISM Raceway near Phoenix, Kyle Busch is bringing back the rainbow for Sunday’s TicketGuardian 500k Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race.
Busch and company will head to the outskirts of Phoenix with the sharp-looking Skittles scheme as the only driver to score top-10 finishes in each of the first three races of 2019. 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. Busch delivered back-to-back Brickyard 400 victories for Skittles in 2015 and 2016 with candy-splashed victory lane celebrations for the Skittles brand, and he returned Skittles to victory lane in 2018 by winning in March at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.
After bringing home a strong third-place finish last weekend at his hometown Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Busch is looking to score his first Cup Series 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 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 NASCAR’s Western swing will conclude next week.
In 27 Cup Series starts at the Phoenix oval known as the “Diamond in the Desert,” Busch has two wins and an impressive 19 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. Last November, in the first race on a newly configured ISM Raceway layout that saw the start-finish line relocated as part of a large infield renovation project, Busch went to victory lane after leading 117 laps.
With his participation in both the Cup Series and Xfinity Series races this weekend, Busch will look to get closer to 200 overall wins among NASCAR’s top three national series. He won both the Gander Outdoors Truck Series and Xfinity Series races at Las Vegas last weekend and now sits just three wins away from the 200-win milestone.
So as the Cup Series moves on to the second of three consecutive races out West, Busch hopes his Skittles 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.