Heating up for Atlanta Weekend
HUNTERSVILLE, North Carolina (July 7, 2021) – With the summer swing in full effect for the NASCAR Cup Series, Kyle Busch has been heating up in the NASCAR Cup Series as he heads to Atlanta Motor Speedway on Sunday.
Busch, driver of the No. 18 SKITTLES Gummies Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), has posted three consecutive top-three finishes as he comes off a strong third-place run in Skittles colors this past weekend at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. In fact, Busch has posted five top-five finishes in his last seven races, including his second win of the season two weekends ago at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway.
Busch and the SKITTLES Gummies team have found the summer stretch more to their liking as the Las Vegas native continues to jell and grow with first-year crew chief Ben Beshore and a mostly new lineup. The pairing of Busch and Beshore took a huge step forward in the first stop this season at Atlanta, when they were able to overcome a speeding penalty to bring home a fifth-place finish there back in March. The team showed a lot of speed on the 1.54.-mile oval, which they used as a springboard to better finishes, including their first win together at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City in May.
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 and Toyota. After leading a race-high 173 laps, Busch 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 seven top-five finishes and 10 top-10s at the 1.54-mile oval during his career.
The two-time Cup Series champion will have SKITTLES onboard for the second week in a row, with SKITTLES Gummies on the Cup Series car for the first time this season, but they did add a win together back in May at Circuit of Americas in Austin, Texas in the NASCAR Xfinity Series race. SKITTLES Gummies are available to fans in stores nationwide.
So, as the Cup Series heads back to Atlanta yet again this weekend, Busch and the SKITTLES Gummies team look to take lessons from their 2008 and 2013 race wins and their top-five finish this past March on the lightning-fast oval and bring home a third Cup Series win at the track. It would be extra sweet – the milestone 60th of Busch’s Cup Series career.
KYLE BUSCH, Driver of the No. 18 SKITTLES Gummies Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:
You’ve been very strong on 1.5-mile ovals so far this year. What are your expectations this weekend?
“Our expectations are always focused on winning. I feel like we’ve been very good with the 550 (horsepower) package this year. We ran really well at Atlanta earlier this year and may have had a shot to win the race if not for a pit-road speeding penalty. Atlanta was the first weekend of the year I felt like we had a lot of speed, and Ben (Beshore, crew chief) and the team keep getting better each week. Really looking forward to this weekend at Atlanta with our SKITTLES Gummies Camry. It’s going to be hot and slick out there, so a bit different than it was there in the spring. We’ll see how it plays out and hopefully we can get another shot at a win there.”
What are your memories of racing at Atlanta?
“I’ve won a few Truck Series races there. That was fun. I won for the first time in an Xfinity race there a few years ago, so that was very cool. I finished second three or four times, so it had been an Achilles heel for me, I guess. The Cup races there, I’ve either been really good or really bad, it seems. There have been times where I’ve been really good throughout the event. I don’t know what it is, but I just can’t seem to keep the grip in my car for the long haul, as long as you need to throughout a run.”
What are your expectations going to Atlanta?
“Atlanta is one of those places where anything can happen and we’ll definitely have to be on our toes there this weekend with our SKITTLES Gummies Camry. You have to have good grip there, you have to have good (tire) fall-off – you have to be fast to start a run, yet you don’t want to fall off more than anybody else. So you have to take care of your stuff and bide your time a little bit. That lends itself to options by the driver to either push hard early (in the run) or save a little and be there late.”
With the way the racing is on the 1.5-mile and 2-mile ovals, are you doing anything differently with the aero on those types of tracks?
“It’s the same for everybody. You’re trying to shut off the guy behind you. You’re trying to shut his air off. That’s why the blocking is so bad, even at some of these places. The guys out front, they’ll mirror drive wherever the heck you’re going to make sure they shut your air off so you have to get out of the gas and stay out of the gas and lose momentum, and they can get a gap on you so they don’t have to deal with you again. As soon as you sort of lose that lead draft, if you’re not fast enough to catch back up to that guy in front of you, then you just continually seem to lose ground.”
● Event: Quaker State 400
● Time/Date: 3:30 p.m. EDT on Sunday, July 11
● Location: Atlanta Motor Speedway
● Layout: 1.54-mile oval
● Laps/Miles: 260 laps/400 miles
● Format: Stage 1: 80 laps / Stage 2: 80 laps / Final Stage: 100 laps
● TV/Radio: NBCSN / PRN / SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
● Well Above Average: Busch leads the way in average finish so far this season on 1.5-mile ovals. In the five races completed on 1.5-mile tracks, Busch has an average finish of 4.4, with the next-best driver Kyle Larson at a 5.4 average finish. Just six drivers have an average finish in the single digits on those tracks this season.
● Previous Playoff Points: Busch has accumulated 13 important playoff points he can take with him through each round. Busch also currently sits fifth in the point standings with 14 top-five finishes and 20 top-10s with just seven regular-season races remaining before the playoffs begin.
● Adding to 100: Busch picked up his 101st win in the NASCAR Xfinity Series last weekend at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. He’ll look to add to his win total this weekend as he’ll strap in behind the wheel of the No. 54 EXTRA Gum Supra on Saturday at Atlanta. It will be Busch’s final Xfinity Series race of the season.
● Five for Five?: With Busch entering his fifth and final Xfinity Series race of the season this weekend in Atlanta, Busch is shooting to go a perfect five-for-five in the win column. The 2009 Xfinity Series champion and all-time wins leader has won this year’s races at Circuit of the Americas in Austin Texas, Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth (his milestone 100th) and Nashville (Tenn.) Superspeedway before last weekend’s win at Road America.
● Alone in Ninth: With his win two weekends ago at Pocono, Busch sits at 59 career wins in NASCAR’s top series as he moved past Kevin Harvick into sole possession of ninth on the all-time win list. Next up on the win list is Dale Earnhardt, the seven-time Cup Series champion and NASCAR Hall of Famer who won 76 races during his storied career.
● 221 and Counting: Busch will be aiming to add to his record 221 overall wins among NASCAR’s top three series this weekend at Atlanta. In addition to his 59 Cup Series wins and 101 in the Xfinity Series, Busch has 61 wins in the Camping World Truck Series.