Anyone who has followed Kyle Busch’s NASCAR career knows he likes to make history.
So as the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway for Sunday’s 26th annual Brickyard 400, the driver of the No. 18 M&M’S Hazelnut Spread Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) will look to add himself to an elite list of stock-car winners at the 2.5-mile oval.
With his wins in the 400-mile race at 2.5-mile oval in 2015 and 2016, Busch became just the second driver to win back-to-back Brickyard 400s. The only other driver to do so is seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson, who accomplished the feat in 2008 and 2009.
There are relatively few winners of multiple Brickyard 400s to begin with in the race’s 26-year history. Just four drivers reside on that list, and Busch wants to add his name as the fifth driver to win at least three Cup Series races at the Brickyard. Busch hopes to one day catch five-time Brickyard 400 winner Jeff Gordon, who scored his wins in 1994, 1998, 2001, 2004 and 2014, and four-time winner Johnson, who sandwiched his back-to-back victories with his first win there in 2006 and his most recent win in 2012. Busch also looks to break his tie with Indiana native Tony Stewart, who won in 2005 and 2007, and Dale Jarrett, who won in 1996 and 1999, as two-time Brickyard 400 winners.
While Busch has an impressive 11 top-10 finishes in 14 starts at Indianapolis for an average finish of 10.7 – second among active drivers – he has always been a frontrunner there. But until he led the final 19 laps in his first Brickyard 400 victory in 2015, and a whopping 149 of the 170 laps in his 2016 victory, Busch had led just 42 laps there prior to 2015. In addition to his strong Cup Series record at Indianapolis, he also has three wins and four top-five finishes in the six Xfinity Series races he’s contested at Indianapolis. He’ll once again be running in Saturday’s Xfinity Series race.
This weekend’s Brickyard 400 also marks the final race of the regular season with the playoffs kicking off Sept. 15 at Busch’s hometown Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Busch can go for broke this weekend as he looks for his fifth win of the season. He clinched this year’s regular-season title last weekend at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway. The regular-season title means Busch will add 15 more playoff points to his current 30 bonus points accumulated this season, a total that can be carried throughout the playoffs.
So it goes without saying Busch would like nothing more than to enjoy the taste of M&M’S Hazelnut Spread, along with the taste of kissing the famous Yard of Bricks for a third time in his Cup Series career. While twice is nice, the third time would put him in elite company in stock-car history at Indianapolis.