Looking to Hit Triples in Las Vegas
HUNTERSVILLE, North Carolina (Feb. 27, 2018) – Aside from NASCAR’s biggest events like the Daytona 500 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway and the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, a win at the hometown racetrack is high on the priority list for most Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers.
Las Vegas native Kyle Busch crossed off an all-important one in just his fifth NASCAR Cup Series start at his hometown Las Vegas Motor Speedway, site of Sunday’s Pennzoil 400.
The driver of the No. 18 M&M’S Caramel Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) and 2002 honors graduate of Durango High School in Las Vegas would like to double his number of Cup Series wins at the 1.5-mile oval after having brought home that emotional first win there in 2009.
Driving the yellow M&M’S Toyota that day, Busch qualified on the pole but was forced to start at the rear of the field because the team needed to change engines during Friday practice. Unfazed, Busch remained patient on race day as he and the M&M’S team worked their way to the front of the field by the 54th lap. Busch went on to lead three times for 51 laps en route to claiming what he called at the time the biggest win of his young career.
This year, well before he competes in Sunday’s Cup Series headline event in the M&M’S Caramel Camry, Busch will have his sights set on “hitting triples” as he is entered in all three NASCAR national series races at Las Vegas, starting with Friday night’s Camping World Truck Series race and Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race. He’s accomplished the feat twice in his career, both times at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway – in 2010 and 2017 – but he’d like nothing more than to pull off a weekend sweep at his hometown track, which for the first time in 2018 features not one but two full weekends of NASCAR racing.
While Busch has a 2016 Xfinity Series win to go with his 2009 Cup Series win on the 1.5-mile desert oval, he already was no stranger to winning on Las Vegas Motor Speedway property. From 1999 to 2001, he earned more than 65 wins in Legends cars while racking up two track championships at the facility’s “Bullring,” which existed for several years before the NASCAR oval was built. When Busch moved up to Late Model Stock cars, his winning ways continued with 10 victories at the Bullring in 2001.
As for the big prize this Sunday afternoon, the Las Vegas native will be bringing back some familiar colors that seemed to provide good fortune several times in 2017. Busch brought the M&M’S Caramel scheme to victory lane five times last season. In year two for the M&M’S Caramel scheme and for the new product that was introduced in 2017, Busch will hope to continue the hot streak for the scheme on the racetrack and in store shelves, both of which were hot commodities last year and both of which are poised for continued success.
So as Busch returns to Las Vegas this weekend, the only thing that would be sweeter than winning his first Cup Series race there would be winning would be to “hit triples” by adding more Vegas trophies to his extensive collection of hardware.
KYLE BUSCH, Driver of the No. 18 M&M'S Caramel Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:
Are you looking forward to going home to Las Vegas this weekend?
“I’m certainly looking forward to getting back to Vegas – always do. This year, it’s going to mean a little bit more. It’ll be a little bit more important to kind of focus on the right things in your racecar to be good. You have that (playoff) race that’s going to be happening there in September, so it’s a great opportunity with our M&M’S Caramel Camry to learn some things for the fall, as well. It certainly is a racetrack that I try to enjoy and run well at but, more importantly, win at. I’ve only been able to do that once in 2009. I’d certainly like to be able to get back to those winning ways there of being able to have a fast racecar and figure out what it takes to get around there well. It’s the hometown race and I’ll be running all three with the triple out there so it will be chaotic doing all that. I’m certainly looking forward to that and the challenge it presents, and I’m hoping we can bring home some trophies, as well.”
Is there more pressure racing at your hometown track?
“Yeah, Vegas always means a little bit more pressure – more pressure on myself – just because it’s the hometown and you want to win there. Thankfully, I have won there and I’ve knocked that one off the list, but certainly you want to win there every year. I love Vegas, the atmosphere and everything going on around that place. We’ve run up front there the last couple of years, so I would like to get our M&M’S Caramel Camry back in victory lane there. It’s always been a big race for us and the M&M’S Caramel team, so I’m hoping we can bring home the win in my hometown.”
What was it like to bring home a Cup Series win in your hometown in 2009?
“It was cool. To go out there and to run a smooth race and to have a shot at winning at the end of the race, that’s what it’s all about. I watched Vegas being built from the ground up, and I remember when it wasn’t anything but a gleam in the eye of Richie Clyne (founder of Las Vegas Motor Speedway) – all those guys who made that place happen.”
Having grown up in Las Vegas, do you still have a lot of friends in the area? Do you get a lot of ticket requests from friends and family?
“I get a lot of ticket requests for California, Vegas and Phoenix – all the West Coast stops that we run. It’s kind of hard to fulfill all of them, but we try when we can. We get to go to M&M’S World on the (Las Vegas) Strip to sign some autographs on Thursday, so I’m looking forward to seeing some of the hometown fans there, as well.”
What is your fondest racing memory of growing up in Las Vegas?
“My fondest racing memory is probably my first Late Model race. I started about eighth or 10th and ended up winning it. My first-ever start, I won. So that is definitely a great memory to have.”