With 53 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series wins and 203 overall wins amongst NASCAR’s top three series, Kyle Busch knows a thing or two about tasting victory whenever he straps into a racecar.
Busch, driver of the No. 18 Skittles Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), is the only driver to score top-10 finishes in all seven Cup Series races contested so far this season, a distinction he’s held since the fourth race of the season when he brought the Skittles colors to victory lane at ISM Raceway near Phoenix. Even more, Busch was close to at least three more victories during these first two months of the season.
With another win at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California the weekend after Phoenix, and five top-five finishes among his seven top-10s – no doubt a very strong start to the season – Busch sits atop the point standings heading into this weekend’s race at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.
As the NASCAR Cup Series heads to the .533-mile, high-banked, concrete oval for Sunday’s Food City 500, Busch returns as the defending winner of the spring race at a venue where he now has seven career Cup Series victories – the most wins of any active driver.
This weekend, Busch and his team travel to Bristol looking to continue their consistency while also aiming to start another win streak after their back-to-back wins at Phoenix and Fontana were followed by a third-place run at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway and last weekend’s 10th-place result at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. The Skittles team has every reason to feel confident since the Bristol bullring and next weekend’s stop at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway are among Busch’s strongest tracks on the circuit. In addition to his seven career Cup Series wins at Bristol, Busch has notched 10 top-fives and 15 top-10s in 27 career starts at Northeast Tennessee’s “Thunder Valley.” Three of Busch’s Cup Series 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 Bristol 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.
So as Busch and the Skittles team head to the Bristol bullring this weekend, they’ll hope the strong start to the season is just the start of something even bigger. Another checkered flag at a Bristol track that has treated him quite well over the years is certainly not out of the question. With the Skittles tagline of “Taste the Rainbow” in mind, Busch will certainly not tire of tasting victory every chance he gets.