As the NASCAR Cup Series heads to Phoenix Raceway for the Season Finale 500k, Kyle Busch and his No. 18 M&M’S team are focused on playing the part of spoiler as stock car racing’s premier series decides its champion on Sunday afternoon in the Arizona desert.
Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’S Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), has already played the spoiler role in these playoffs, having won two races ago at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth while keeping all the drivers in the Round of 8 of the Cup Series playoffs behind him. On Sunday at Phoenix, Busch will look to win at a place where he knows victory lane well.
Busch won at Phoenix for the first time in the fall of 2006, but went 12 years before his next turn at tasting victory there when he won back-to-back races. Those two races, in the fall of 2018 and then the spring of 2019, were the first two events on the renovated and reconfigured track surface with the start-finish line moved from what is now the backstretch over to the dogleg in front of the new main grandstand. Busch, in fact, has not finished worse than third in his last five Phoenix starts and has led a whopping 491 laps in that time.
While the M&M’S driver went 25 races between wins at Phoenix, he has been incredibly consistent throughout his career at the mile oval. In 30 Cup Series starts at the “Diamond in the Desert,” Busch has 12 top-five finishes and 22 top-10s while scoring top-five finishes in nine of his last 10 starts there, which includes the aforementioned back-to-back victories in 2018 and 2019.
Busch’s win in the rain-delayed Texas win, which began Sunday, Oct. 25 but wasn’t completed until Wednesday, Oct. 28, kept alive his streak of 16 consecutive seasons with at least one victory, and he knows there’s no better place than Phoenix to add to his win total this season with one last shot to do it this weekend.
So as the Cup Series season comes to an end, the 2019 Cup Series champion has one thing on his mind Sunday at Phoenix, where Busch and the M&M’S team hope to play spoiler on the same day a new champion will be crowned.