As the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season is set to begin with on-track activities starting Tuesday, Feb. 9 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, Kyle Busch has turned his attention to checking the most important remaining box on his career to-do list.
Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’S Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), is hoping to check the box of Daytona 500 champion by finally securing the Harley J. Earl Trophy that goes annually to the Daytona 500 winner as he makes his 16th career start in The Great American Race slated for Sunday, Feb. 14.
Busch is still searching for his first victory in NASCAR’s season-opening event, which would be one of the most noteworthy accomplishments on his already impressive resume. The important race wins and accomplishments already checked off his list are housed in a large trophy case built at his Kyle Busch Motorsports race shop. The list starts with his two Cup Series championship trophies from 2015 and 2019, along with his wins in crown jewel races starting with the Southern 500 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway in 2008, back-to-back Brickyard 400s at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2015 and 2016, his first points-paying Cup Series win at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway in the Coca-Cola 600 on Memorial Day weekend in 2018, and his first All-Star Race victory coming at Charlotte in 2017. While Busch will have his sights set on notching wins at a handful of new venues in 2021, the Daytona 500 trophy remains at the top of his list.
The Las Vegas native begins the pursuit of his first Daytona 500 win and third championship sporting the familiar yellow M&M’S scheme on his No. 18 Toyota. The M&M’S brand will be returning to Busch’s car for its 14th season in 2021, along with other Mars Wrigley products highlighted on the car throughout the year, which include a mix of new and also familiar products from the SNICKERS, SKITTLES and PEDIGREE brands. With M&M’S always bringing along the fun throughout the year in its marketing platforms, the brand also recently opened up a new M&M’S store just an hour down the road from Daytona in Orlando at Disney Springs. The 10,000-square-foot M&M’S World store features an iconic Wall of Chocolate, larger-than-life character moments, and the ability for guests to create their very own custom M&M'S candies.
The M&M’S Toyota will be on track the week leading up to the Daytona 500, starting with Tuesday night’s Busch Clash, an exhibition race Busch won in 2012. It will continue with single-lap qualifying Wednesday night, then Thursday night’s Bluegreen Vacations Duel qualifying races. Busch won his Duel qualifying race in 2009, 2013 and 2016. And the official NASCAR Cup Series season begins in earnest with the Sunday’s Daytona 500 for Busch, who in addition to his three non-points race wins at Daytona captured his first and only points-paying Cup Series win at the 2.5-mile superspeedway in July 2008.
So, as Busch and his No. 18 M&M’S Camry head back to Daytona next week, his sights will be set on winning The Great American Race and hoping to become the 40th driver to grace the Harley J. Earl Trophy as Daytona 500 champion.