Until last Wednesday night’s event at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway, the last time the NASCAR Cup Series ran a race on a Wednesday was almost 36 years ago – the Firecracker 400 on July 4, 1984. Back then, no matter on what day July 4 fell, NASCAR’s top series raced at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. That 1984 Firecracker 400 also happened to be one of the more memorable races in NASCAR history, as Richard Petty brought home the 200th win of his Cup Series career.
While the race last week at Darlington marked the first Wednesday Cup Series race in more than three decades, the next midweek event is set for just seven days later. The series heads back to Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway for Wednesday night’s Alsco Uniforms 500k as NASCAR continues to make up races lost due to the COVID-19 pandemic that has affected events of every kind, not only in the United States but all over the world.
This Wednesday night, Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’S Fudge Brownie Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), will look to improve on his most recent outing, which resulted in a fourth-place finish in Sunday night’s traditional Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte. Busch ran up front for most of the first portion of the race, but a pit road speeding penalty sent him to the rear of the field. However, he and the M&M’S team were able to rally back to bring home his fourth top-five finish in seven races this season. Wednesday night’s 500-kilometer race replaces the cancelled race at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway originally scheduled for June. With a second-place finish last Wednesday at Darlington and the fourth-place run Sunday night at Charlotte, Busch is hoping the Sonoma replacement race nets him his third top-five in a row and first win of the season.
Busch has managed to enjoy plenty of success at the 1.5-mile Charlotte oval. He now has 14 top-five finishes and 19 top-10s in his 31 previous Cup Series starts there over the past 14-plus seasons. In addition to solid Cup Series finishes, Busch has captured eight NASCAR Xfinity Series wins at Charlotte – May 2004, 2005, 2008 and 2010, October 2008 and 2009, and both May and October 2013. He also has eight NASCAR Truck Series wins at the track – 2005, 2006, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2017 and 2019.
While he had gone to Charlotte’s victory lane at early and often in the Xfinity and Truck Series, Busch only recently broke through in the Cup Series there. His 2017 win in the non-points All-Star Race was his first Cup Series win of any kind at the track. The following year, in 2018, Busch was able to win there again, this time in the points-paying Coca-Cola 600 to add another crown jewel to his already impressive resume.
So as the Cup Series continues its busy run of eight races in less than a month, Busch and his M&M’S Fudge Brownie team hope they can break through for the first of many wins under the Wednesday night lights at Charlotte. He’ll hope to keep the momentum he’s built over the last two races as the season is finally able to kick into full gear for the summer.