The driver of the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota will try for his ninth Monster Energy Cup Series win at Bristol Motor Speedway in Saturday’s Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race. If Busch can pull off the feat, he will tie legendary drivers Cale Yarborough, Dale Earnhardt and Rusty Wallace for second place on the track’s all-time list.
Busch, who will also compete in Friday’s Food City 300 for the NASCAR Xfinity Series, already holds the record for Bristol wins in all series with 22 overall (eight Cup, nine Xfinity and five Trucks).
“Obviously we’re on a hot streak with Bristol. We love going there,” the 34-year-old driver said. “We’ll see what we can do there, hopefully having a fast race car and doing what we normally do there. Hopefully, we can make it back-to-back wins there for us and keep making some progress in the points for the regular-season championship.”
Busch, who counts the Food City 500 at BMS in April among one of his four victories this season, is solidly in the NASCAR playoffs. He’s also the leader in the regular-season standings, 20 points ahead of defending series champion Joey Logano.
Both Busch, the 2015 NASCAR champion, and Logano plan to compete in both Friday and Saturday races. Busch knows why the track is so loved by both drivers and fans alike.
“Bristol Motor Speedway is one of the best tracks on the circuit. All the fans love it because of the excitement, the run-ins and the close-quarter action with all the cars being packed on top of one another at a half-mile race track with us 40 lunatics running around in a tight circle,” he said. “With the fans, the atmosphere there makes for a good time and sometimes a frustrating time when things don’t go your way.”
Win or lose, Busch is the most polarizing figure in the sport. However in recent years, the number of cheers have grown along with his accomplishments. Earlier this season, he tied Wallace for ninth on the Cup Series all-time win list with 55 victories.
Now with an opportunity to match Wallace at both drivers’ favorite track, Busch looked back at his Bristol memory. It was watching his older brother, Kurt, score his first Cup Series win in 2002. However, that can’t top Kyle’s own feats in 2010 and 2017 when he swept races in the Truck, Xfinity and Cup Series in the same weekend. It’s something that hasn’t been done by anyone at Bristol — or anywhere else for that matter.
“I think nothing comes close to the races in the fall of 2010 and two years ago,” Busch said. “That was awfully special to pull off with as many things that can happen there and as much carnage that can happen there. It certainly made for an awesome weekend and one for the record books.”
Still, Busch doesn’t think he or anyone will ever match Waltrip’s record of seven straight Bristol Cup Series wins from 1981-84. He feels the competition has advanced too much since that era to have a shot at it.
Busch recalled being excited the first time he came to Bristol, although it didn’t turn out exactly like he envisioned.
“I remember it was in an Xfinity car at a test session for Hendrick Motorsports,” he said. “I needed about 27 laps before I thought I was going to knock the wall down with all the optimism and pumped up feelings I had about going there. But after that, it’s been pretty fun.”