When it comes to racing at the .533-mile Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, Kyle Busch seems to like doing things in threes.
So it’s only appropriate as the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to Bristol for Saturday night’s Bass Pro Shops Night Race that Busch will look to score his third Bristol victory in a row in NASCAR’s top series.
The driver of the No. 18 M&M’S® White Chocolate Toyota Camry for JGR in the Cup Series has a penchant for winning things in threes as he’s the only driver in NASCAR history to win all three races in a single weekend. Busch captured the “Bristol Triple” in 2010 and 2017 by winning NASCAR’s Camping World Truck Series, Xfinity Series, and Cup Series those years.
The 2015 Cup Series champion won the Cup race at Bristol one year ago by leading 156 laps and followed that up in April by leading 114 laps en route to an exciting victory that included a late-race pass of Kyle Larson to seal the victory. Interestingly enough, it was the third time Busch won back-to-back Cup races at the Bristol bullring. He swept both races in 2009, then won the August 2010 and March 2011 races consecutively.
In addition to his seven career Bristol wins, which is tops among active drivers, Busch has notched 10 top-fives and 15 top-10s in 26 career starts at Northeast Tennessee’s “Thunder Valley.”
While he is a factor any time he travels to Bristol, it’s interesting to note Busch didn’t immediately take to the place. During his rookie year in 2005, he posted finishes of 28th and 33rd, but his record since then has been impressive, to say the least. After bringing home finishes of eighth and second in 2006, Busch captured his first Bristol Cup Series win in March 2007. The track was resurfaced after that race and, from 2008 to 2011, nobody has been better at the concrete oval than Busch. He scored four wins and six top-10s from 2008 until another change to the track surface prior to the August 2012 race weekend. Busch has seemed to recapture the magic from his four years of dominance there as the new racing grooves there have better suited Busch’s driving style over the last year.
Debuting this weekend at Bristol will be the M&M’S White Chocolate scheme. In 2017, M&M’S® launched White Chocolate, a delicious, year-round offering that features creamy white chocolate enclosed in a colorful candy shell. But this weekend will be the first time the new candy treats have donned Busch’s No. 18 Toyota.
With Kevin Harvick winning his seventh race of the season last weekend, Busch will head to one of his strongest tracks this weekend with six wins on the season and hopes of matching Harvick. This season has featured Harvick, Busch, and Martin Truex Jr., battling it out as the dominant drivers over the first 23 races.
So, as Busch and the No. 18 team head to Bristol this weekend, they’ll be focused yet again on another possible “three” to add to their resume as they aim for a win in the first race for M&M’S White Chocolate.
|KYLE BUSCH, Driver of the No. 18 M&M’S White Chocolate Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:|
|Bristol is arguably your best track. Do you feel like you’re in perfect position to respond to Kevin Harvick’s win last week?
“Yes and no. Certainly, Harvick has been fast there, too. I think he won there a couple of years ago. But, obviously we’re kind of on a hot streak with Bristol. We love going there. I would like to think that we can go there, be fast and be able to respond, absolutely. So we’ll see what we can do getting there, and hopefully having a fast racecar and doing what we normally do there, just try to stay out of trouble. It’s a tough place to stay out of trouble. This is the first time we’ve had M&M’S White Chocolate on the car, so hoping it keeps the good-luck streak alive and we can win three Cup races in a row for the first time there.”
What makes Bristol Motor Speedway so unique and a place that fans love?
“Bristol Motor Speedway is one of the best racetracks on the circuit. All the fans love it because of the excitement, the run-ins and the close-quarter action with all the cars being packed on top of one another at a half-mile racetrack with us 40 lunatics running around in a tight circle. With the fans, the atmosphere there always makes for a good time.”
You and your brother have strong records at Bristol – he has five wins and you have seven. What do you remember most about Bristol from over the years?
“I remember watching when I was a kid – I wasn’t there racing, yet – watching Kurt win his first race at Bristol and then having the epic battle with Jimmy Spencer there. That was a lot of fun to watch and see how Kurt was able to get his first win there and, of course, the years that I’ve been able to put cars in victory lane or wishing I could go back and get a few more of those wins that I missed out on – I’d have a heck of a lot more than just seven. I think nothing comes close to races in the fall of 2010 and last year when I won the Truck race, the Xfinity race and the Cup race all in the same weekend. That was awfully special to pull off and with as much things as can happen there and as much carnage that can happen there. It certainly made for an awesome weekend and one for the record books. Doing it the first time was a bit more special, but last year was really neat and good memories I’ll always have, as well.”
Do you think anyone will ever win another seven races in a row at Bristol, like Darrell Waltrip did from 1981 to 1984?
“No, I don’t think so. I think the way the sport was then is certainly different than the way the sport is now. When you hit on something back in that day, you might have been able to keep it at that particular racetrack for a lot longer than you can, now. The way that tech goes and the way you have to tear down your car at the racetrack and having people looking at it from not very far away, they can see what you’re doing and, then again, they go to the tech center and they pull apart the shocks and they pull apart the bump stops and they basically give away to everybody else what you’re doing. I don’t think you’ll ever see seven in a row at a particular racetrack again, but I could be wrong. Deep down, I would like to say that I could do it, but I know that, even with the team I have and the crew and the talent and everything we’ve got going on with the M&M’S White Chocolate car, that’s going to be hard to do. It’s fun to reminisce about those days and about what it’s all about but, sometimes you hear these comments about our sport. And they talk about how great it was in the ’70s or the ’80s, and you look at some of the results and there’s eight cars that finish and the second-place car is three laps down and this guy has now won five in a row at a particular racetrack and it’s, like, ‘How is that the good old days?’ Is that really what would be exciting these days? I don’t think so. Not unless it’s your favorite driver, and there are a lot of fans out there who pull for different drivers.”
What is your first memory of Bristol and what is your best story of success?
“I remember my first time, it was in an Xfinity Series car at a test session for Hendrick Motorsports. I remember I needed about 27 laps before I thought I was going to knock the wall down so with all the optimism and pumped-up feelings I had about going there, but after that it’s been pretty fun. We’ve had some challenging times there, but also I’ve had some good times there. Looking to continue that there this weekend with our M&M’s White Chocolate Camry. What’s the highlight? You can’t dismiss the sweeps there. I would say that the first one was really, really awesome and really, really special and last fall was great, too.”