Kyle Busch Eyes on the Prize

LAT Images #18: Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota Camry M&M’s Hazelnut

As the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to Dover (Del.) International Speedway for Sunday’s fourth playoff race of the season and first in the Round of 12, Kyle Busch and his No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota team for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) have their eyes firmly on the prize.

Busch is looking to put his start to the playoffs in the rearview mirror and is focused on starting the second round with a win in Sunday’s Drydene 400 at Dover. While Busch led 203 laps and finished in the runner-up spot two weeks ago at Richmond (Va.) Raceway, finishes in the playoff opener at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and the first-round finale on the Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway roval road course were not what the team was looking for. However, with a new round of the playoffs comes a reset of the point standings. The slate is wiped clean and Busch leads the standings with a fresh set of races ahead of him and the Interstate Batteries team as they continue their focus on the prize at the end of the year – the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship trophy.

Busch will look to add to his three career wins at the “Monster Mile,” where many remember his most recent win in the October 2017 race, which he brought home in dramatic fashion. The Interstate Batteries driver caught and passed leader Chase Elliott in the final laps and held on for another “Miles the Monster” trophy, which is awarded to each winner at the challenging concrete mile oval. It was Busch’s first fall win at Dover, and his second win in as many weeks as he was victorious the previous weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon. The 2015 Cup Series champion and his Interstate Batteries team have been looking forward to the Round of 12 of this year’s playoffs for a couple of weeks after the aforementioned runner-up finish at Richmond Sept. 21 was enough to advance. His lead in the newly reset playoff standings is five points over second-place Martin Truex Jr., his JGR teammate.

The familiar green-and-white-striped Interstate Batteries colors will return this weekend for the sixth and final time in 2019. The iconic partnership continues the impressive run by JGR’s founding sponsor in the 28th consecutive year Interstate has been a primary sponsor on the No. 18 car owned by three-time Super Bowl-winning coach Joe Gibbs.   

In addition to his three career wins at Dover, Busch and his Interstate Batteries team have some impressive overall stats there to bolster their confidence this weekend. Along with the wins in NASCAR’s top series, Busch has scored five NASCAR Xfinity Series wins and four NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series wins at Dover. Busch has led 1,188 laps in his previous 27 Cup Series starts at Dover, an average of 44 per race. He’s also scored 12 top-five finishes and 18 top-10s at the track.

So, as the Interstate Batteries team heads to Dover, Busch will have no problem keeping his eyes on the ultimate prize during Sunday afternoon’s 400-miler on the Delmarva Peninsula in Delaware’s capital city. A win would make for an automatic bid into the playoffs’ Round of 8, and get him and his team a step closer to his shot at a second career Cup Series championship.

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