Kyle Busch 10,000

Kyle Busch 10,000 Getty Images

Just because the site of last weekend’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway is nicknamed “The Last Great Colosseum,” it doesn’t mean Kyle Busch doesn’t have his eyes purely on the conquest of the next venue and trophy – and a spot in the 2014 Chase for the Sprint Cup.

This weekend’s arena? That would be Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. for Sunday’s Auto Club 400.

Busch will be supported by the efforts of Joe Gibbs Racing’s founding sponsor, whose Conquest 18 social media campaign can be followed via Facebook (www.facebook/interstatebatteries), Twitter (@InterstateBatts) and Instagram (@InterstateBatts) all with the hashtag #Conquest18.

The driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry will be looking to score back-to-back wins at Fontana and, in the process, surpass 10,000 laps led in his relatively short Sprint Cup career. Busch sits just 67 laps from reaching the 10,000-laps-led mark, which would make him just the 15th driver in the history of NASCAR’s top series to accomplish the feat. With the new “win and you’re in the Chase format,” Busch knows winning the battle Sunday would set him up for another championship run in September.

Last year at Fontana, Busch led a race-high 125 laps and brought home the checkered flag in dramatic fashion as he slid to the outside of the dueling Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin coming off turn four on the final lap. The win was one of four Sprint Cup victories for Busch in 2013, two of which were in Interstate Batteries colors at Fontana and in Interstate’s backyard at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth.

With two wins to his name there, Busch’s Sprint Cup record at Fontana is impressive. Since scoring his maiden victory there in September 2005, he has rattled off 11 top-10 finishes in 16 races. Busch also has six Nationwide Series wins – October 2008, February 2009 and 2010, October 2010, March 2011 and March 2013 – at the 2-mile oval, which included a weekend sweep last March.

The last time Busch reached a major milestone was last April at Texas, where he captured the win in his 300th Sprint Cup start. Will this be the weekend during which the Las Vegas native reaches the 10,000-laps-led milestone while also bringing home the hardware? This first of six races for Interstate Batteries could bring with it a landmark achievement as Conquest 18 aims for the 2014 Sprint Cup championship.

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Steven B. Wilson

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