As the NASCAR Cup Series heads to Atlanta Motor Speedway for Sunday’s Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500, it might have a sense of déjà vu. Flashing back to March 15, the series was scheduled to run its early season 500-miler on the 1.5-mile oval and teams and drivers were making their way to the track when the COVID-19 pandemic put a pause on the season just four races into the 36-race schedule.
Now, a little less than three months later, the series has returned and has contested five races since. Sunday’s race at Atlanta will be the 10th of the season and sixth race back post-hiatus.
Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’S Fudge Brownie Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), has had an up-and-down five races since the return to racing, bringing home top-five finishes at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway on May 20, Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway on May 24, and at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway this past Sunday. On the flip side, some bad luck led to disappointing finishes at Darlington on May 17 and Charlotte on May 28.
With NASCAR’s top series heading to its next round, Busch would like nothing more than to bring home his first win of the season Sunday at Atlanta. Busch returns to the racetrack this weekend where the winning for him began with JGR in 2008. That was his first year with JGR, and he headed to Atlanta for the fourth Cup Series race of the season aiming to bring home the maiden victory for the team’s two new partners – Mars Wrigley Confectionary U.S. and Toyota. After leading a race-high 173 laps, the Las Vegas native broke through for the first time in NASCAR’s top series for Toyota, which was in its second year of Cup Series competition and its first year with JGR. Busch added an Atlanta Cup Series win in 2013 to go with five top-five finishes and eight top-10s at the 1.5-mile oval during his career.
So, as the Cup Series heads back to Atlanta yet again this weekend, Busch and the M&M’S Fudge Brownie team look to take lessons from their 2008 and 2013 race wins on the lightning-fast oval and bring home his third Cup Series win at the track and 57th of his career on a weekend that most certainly will be different than the first time around there this season.