Last year at this time Kyle Busch had rejoined Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) in the NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) and attempted the famous Tennessee short track for the first time together with crew chief Adam Stevens and his unit of race-winning team members. Although Busch and his newly formed Monster Energy JGR team started with a 13th-place qualifying run and fought a tight-handling car through the race, the .533-mile short track master communicated well with his team to improve the car balance, which resulted in 156 laps led and a race-ending visit to victory lane at “The World’s Fastest Half Mile.”
The early 2013 win for Joe Gibbs Racing and driver Kyle Busch was the team’s second checkered flag grab across the first four weeks last season. That Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway spring event win gave Busch his 53rd career visit to the winner’s podium in 248 starts, a series record. Taking home the trophy Busch captured his fifth victory and 11th top-five finish in 18 Nationwide Series starts at Bristol, which tied him for the most NNS series triumphs in track history.
When the team returned for the fall Bristol event, JGR’s No. 54 Nationwide Series program was a proven winner. By August of 2013 Stevens and Busch had led their Monster Energy team to eight victories then clinched a ninth, with the Friday night battle at Bristol. The fall event win gave Busch his 60th career visit to the checkered flag podium in 261 starts, another series record. Taking home the trophy Busch captured his sixth victory and 15th top-10 finish in 13 Nationwide Series starts at what is known as the ‘Last Great Colosseum.’ The then 28-year old had set a new track record for the most NASCAR national series wins at Bristol with 15. In addition, the win gave Busch 120 NASCAR national series wins – the second most all-time victories behind NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty’s 200.
Busch will again travel to the mountains of Tennessee for his 20th attempt at the fast short track Saturday, with high expectations of giving his Monster Energy sponsor another taste of victory in the No. 54 Toyota Camry. The young group recently earned their first win together in week two of the 2014 season at Phoenix (Ariz.) International Raceway, similar to last year’s record -- leading into the Bristol event.
Busch is no stranger to success on the high banks of Bristol. In 45 races across all three of NASCAR’s premier series, the now 29-year old has amassed 15 wins, five poles, 25 top-five finishes, 33 top-10 finishes and 3,179 laps led. In the Nationwide Series specifically, in 19 starts, Busch has recorded six wins, three poles, 12 top-five finishes and 15 top-10 finishes. He is the last driver to win from the pole position at BMS during a Nationwide Series event, done in August of 2013.
The JGR team travels to this weekend’s event at one of the fastest short tracks on the NASCAR circuit, where they know their leaders both in the car and on the pit box are considered the ‘best’ at securing victory. The goal this week is to maximize practice times, which will allow the Monster Energy driver and team to best prepare for Saturday’s event in order to cross the finish line first and register the group’s second win of 2014.