Kyle Busch’s return home this weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway could go a long way in determining his NASCAR Cup Series playoff chances when the Round of 12 kicks off Sunday at Busch’s hometown track.
The driver of the No. 18 M&M’S Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) heads to the 1.5-mile desert oval 10th in the playoff standings, and with the unpredictable Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway and the Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway roval set to close out the Round of 12, the Las Vegas native wants to get off to a strong start to the round with a solid finish Sunday.
Aside from NASCAR’s biggest events like the Daytona 500 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway and the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, a win at the hometown racetrack is high on the priority list for most NASCAR Cup Series drivers. Busch crossed that all-important hometown win off his list when he won in just his fifth Las Vegas Cup Series start in 2009.
The 2002 honors graduate of Durango High School in Las Vegas qualified on the pole that weekend but was forced to start at the rear of the field because his team needed to change engines during Friday practice. Unfazed, Busch remained patient on race day as he and the M&M’S team worked their way to the front of the field by the 54th lap. He went on to lead three times for 51 laps en route to claiming what he called at the time the biggest win of his young career.
This weekend, he would like nothing more than to double his number of Cup Series wins at Las Vegas to go with that emotional first hometown win.
While Busch added 2016 and 2019 NASCAR Xfinity Series wins at Las Vegas to go with three NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series wins in a row from 2018 to 2020, he already was no stranger to winning on Las Vegas Motor Speedway property. From 1999 to 2001, he earned more than 65 wins in Legends cars while racking up two track championships at the facility’s “Bullring,” which existed for several years before the NASCAR oval was built. When Busch moved up to Late Model stock cars, his winning ways continued with 10 victories at the Bullring in 2001.
So as Busch returns to Las Vegas this weekend, he hopes the he can turn a trip back home into a trip back to a place he’s just as familiar with – victory lane.