Hitting the Road for July 4th Weekend
HUNTERSVILLE, North Carolina (June 30, 2021) – Like many Americans this Fourth of July weekend, Kyle Busch will be hitting the road. However, Busch, driver of the No. 18 Skittles America Mix Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), will be doing it much faster than most, and he won’t be on vacation for the holiday weekend.
The two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion is set to take on a new challenge as the NASCAR Cup Series makes its debut at the 4.048-mile, 14-turn Road America circuit in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, for Sunday’s Jockey Made in America 250.
While Busch has become one of the veterans of NASCAR’s top series with 59 career wins in what is now his 17th season as a fulltime competitor, the 36-year-old will become a rookie, of sorts, as many of the newer Cup Series competitors have raced several times at Road America with NASCAR’s Xfinity Series, which has competed there 11 times prior to this year’s Cup Series debut at the historic road course.
Still, Busch made a strong debut in May at another new road-racing venue, Circuit of Americas (COTA) in Austin, Texas. Busch led 12 laps and had a chance for a win had rain not forced the event to be cut short. The Las Vegas native led laps and finished fifth four weekends ago at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway. This weekend, he hopes to make it to victory lane at yet another new venue and the fourth road course the series will have competed on so far this season.
Road-course racing has taken on even more importance in the Cup Series this year with the addition of COTA, Road America, and the road courses at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway added to the traditional stops at Sonoma, Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International and the Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway Roval. With those additions, it’s more important than ever to have a strong driver and team that can turn left and right this season and beyond.
Busch heads to his Road America debut this weekend on a hot streak, of sorts, as he became the most recent Cup Series winner at the second race of last weekend’s doubleheader at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway. Busch finished just one spot short of a win on Saturday, but while he had a strong car on Sunday, he used a fuel-mileage gamble to bring home a win as the team also fought through transmission issues, which put him behind during several points of Sunday’s winning effort. Still, Busch added to his impressive resume by passing Kevin Harvick for ninth on the all-time Cup Series win list, with potentially many years left in the tank.
To help America’s Independence Day celebration this weekend, Busch’s No. 18 Toyota will feature the Skittles America Mix scheme.Each bag of Skittles America Mix contains a fun, fruit-flavored and patriotic mix of red, white and blue candies. The patriotic-themed Skittles are a must-have for celebrating this weekend – and of course, a great snack while watching a NASCAR Cup Series race. They’re available at retailers nationwide through the summer.
So as Busch heads to Road America for the first time this weekend, as virtually a rookie there, he’ll hope to hit the road not for a vacation weekend, but to get to work and learn an entire new road course in hopes of continuing to add to his impressive career statistics.
KYLE BUSCH, Driver of the No. 18 Skittles America Mix Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:
What are you expecting this week for your first time ever at Road America?
“I’ve never been there before, so I’ll have a lot to learn, for sure. A lot of the young guys have raced there before in the Xfinity Series, so they’ll probably have a little bit of an advantage just knowing the track a little bit better than I will. We’ll get a chance to have practice and race with our M&M’S Ice Cream Supra in the Xfinity Series race (Saturday), so hoping we learn a lot from that. It will be nice to have practice for the Cup Series, too. Both COTA (Circuit of Americas) and Sonoma were good races for us so far this year, so I think our road-course cars have been pretty strong. We should have had a better finish at COTA, and we had a good car at Sonoma and got a decent finish out of it. Looking forward to getting to Road America this weekend and learning as much as we can and have a good run with our Skittles America Mix Camry and get us a win on the Fourth of July, that would be pretty cool.”
You are running both the Cup Series and Xfinity Series races this weekend. Are doubleheaders fun for you?
“I feel like preparing for a doubleheader is pretty easy. I’ve always been used to running in two or three races in a weekend, running the Truck, Xfinity, Cup, whatever it may be. I like that, so I think it gives us an opportunity to get out there and get our feet wet in the first race in the Xfinity Series, and get a feel for the tire and really think about what you can learn. This weekend at Road America, we’re running the Xfinity Series race with M&M’S Ice Cream on that car and Skittles America Mix on Sunday, so we have a couple of Mars Wrigley brands we would like to have a good weekend for. Obviously, this weekend you go to a place where we’ve never run a race before, so getting some track time in the Xfinity car on Friday and Saturday is going to be very important. I’m a bit of a perfectionist, so it will be nice to have some extra track time to work on my car and get some experience and also have just a little bit more knowledge of what it’s like beyond what we do in our (simulator) and other ways we prepare for races.”
Is road-course racing something that comes naturally to you, or is it something you had to work on?
“It’s definitely something you have to work on. With rule changes and tire changes, it’s something you work on every year. There’s always change that you have to work on to be competitive. When I was a kid back in Las Vegas in Legends cars, that’s where I was able to learn about shifting and turning left and turning right. I had the natural instincts for it and won a couple of championships in the winter series we had out there. We actually went out to Sonoma back then and ran the national championship races two years in a row and finished third both times, so I had a little bit of experience on road courses as I came up through the ranks.”
For a veteran like yourself, what’s the benefit of running the Xfinity race this weekend?
“Being able to come to a new track – when everything was announced that we were coming here – I wanted to run there as much as I could. We were able to work it out so both myself and Ty (Gibbs) can run here, as well, so I think it’s beneficial for both of us. He loves road racing, too. It was kind of a perfect scenario – being able to get in the Xfinity Series and be able to practice in both of those races. I’m hoping it will be a really good weekend for us.”
Even after all of this time, does experience matter?
“Absolutely, track time. You are able to work on all of your braking points, my turn-ins, and learn where the rubber will be laid down on the track. You try to get a little bit of a sense of where that stuff is – trying to pick out those visuals that you can really count on each and every day when you try and learn a new track like Road America, COTA, and other places we’ve gone to this year that are new to myself and a lot of the other guys.”
● Event: Jockey Made in America 250 (Round 20 of 36)
● Time/Date: 2:30 p.m. EDT on Sunday, July 4
● Location: Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin
● Layout: 4.048-mile, 14-turn road course
● Laps/Miles: 60 laps/250 miles
● Format: Stage 1: 14 laps / Stage 2: 15 laps / Final Stage: 33 laps
● TV/Radio: NBC / MRN / SiriusXM NASCAR Radio