It’s only the second week of the NASCAR Cup Series season, but Kyle Busch is already going for his first sweep of the season.
Busch, driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), started off the season last Tuesday night with a win in the season-opening Busch Clash exhibition. How the two-time Cup Series champion ended up in victory lane was interesting, as leaders Ryan Blaney and Chase Elliott collided in the last corner and Busch snuck by from third place to bring home the checkered flag.
Busch has become a virtual veteran of the 14-turn, 3.61-mile road course that the Cup Series raced on for the first time only last August. The Las Vegas native has now competed on the Daytona circuit three times in the past 13 months. His first came in a completely different kind of car and race as he drove a GTD-class Lexus RC F GT3 sportscar for AIM Vasser Sullivan in the January 2020 Rolex 24. His next appearance was in the Cup Series race Aug. 20, when Busch ran up front but developed brake issues and a subsequent accident forced him out of the race early. And the third, of course, was last week’s victorious run in the non-points Busch Clash.
With Interstate Batteries slated for six primary sponsorships of Busch’s No. 18 Toyota in 2021, JGR’s founding partner gets to mark an important milestone as the team celebrates its 30th anniversary of Interstate Batteries being along for the ride every step of the way. Busch would like nothing more than to get Interstate Batteries into victory lane this weekend to kick off the 30th anniversary festivities.
Sunday’s forecast at Daytona calls for sunny skies and temperatures in the 60s, but the weather in most of the rest of the country this week hasn’t been nearly as pleasant as it’s been in Florida. In fact, extremely rare winter weather even struck the Dallas-based headquarters of Interstate Batteries and the entire state of Texas. With Interstate Batteries returning to the No. 18 Toyota this weekend, Busch is encouraging fans living in areas of frigid temperatures to stop by a local Interstate dealer to get their vehicle batteries checked, as cold weather and snow have covered more than 70 percent of the country this week and can adversely affect your car battery.
While Busch added the non-points win last week at Daytona to his resume, the Las Vegas native will look to add another points-paying road-course win this weekend, which would put him in elite company as a road-racing ace in NASCAR’s top series. The Interstate Batteries driver’s four career road-course wins tie him with retired drivers David Pearson and Mark Martin on the all-time Cup Series road-course wins list. That’s some pretty good company, already. But with a fifth road-course win, Busch could tie Darrell Waltrip, Tim Richmond and Dan Gurney on the list. There is a bit of distance to the top two spots on the all-time road-course wins list, of course, when it comes to catching Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart, who have nine and eight career road-course wins, respectively.
Busch scored his fourth career Cup Series road-course win in June 2015 at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway, and he heads to Daytona with 11 top-five finishes and 19-top-10s at the traditional road-course stops on the schedule with 34 combined starts at Sonoma, Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International, the Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway Roval, and the addition last summer of the Daytona road course.”
So as Busch prepares for some road racing this weekend, he would like to accomplish a few things, including another tally in the win column for Interstate Batteries colors in the company’s 30th season with JGR, climbing the ladder in the record books as one of NASCAR’s best road-course racers and, of course, the Daytona road-course sweep of 2021.