As the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs hit the homestretch with Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Kyle Busch and his No. 18 M&M’S Toyota team for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) know all too well that “everything is bigger in Texas.”
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 four 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. With his sights on his fifth straight visit to the Cup Series finale as championship eligible, Busch has been able to survive and advance through the first two rounds and into the current Round of 8, despite not having the playoffs he had hoped for by his team’s lofty standards.
Busch heads to Texas this weekend hoping to bring home his fourth career Cup Series win there. He’s certainly been trending in the right direction at the 1.5-mile oval with seven top-10 finishes in his last 10 starts there. He has 27 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 four more for a total of nine Xfinity Series wins there, including in his most recent visit there in April. Add his four NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series wins in November 2009, 2010, 2014, and 2019 and it’s no wonder Busch is feeling good about his chances of reaching victory lane yet again Sunday.
The Las Vegas native sits third in the playoff standings heading into Sunday’s second race of the Round of 8. Martin Truex Jr. 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 17 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 trophy collection, Busch and his team will continue to follow the blueprint that got them to the Championship 4 during the last four playoff runs by shooting for at least a solid finish Sunday, but a win would certainly be bigger in Texas. If all goes according to plan, they once again may be the ones with a chance to hoist the Cup Series championship trophy down in South Florida in two weeks.