Anyone who has followed Kyle Busch’s NASCAR career knows he likes to make history.
So as the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway for Sunday’s 24th annual Brickyard 400, the driver of the No. 18 Skittles Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) will look to add himself to an elite list of stock car winners at the 2.5-mile oval.
After winning last year’s 400-miler, Busch become only the second driver to win back-to-back Brickyard 400s at Indianapolis. The only other driver to do so, seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson, accomplished the feat in 2008 and 2009.
There are relatively few winners of multiple Brickyard 400s to begin with in the race’s 23-year history. Just four drivers reside on that list, and Busch, who loves being a part of history, would love to add his name as the first driver to win three Brickyard 400s in a row on the 2.5-mile Indianapolis oval. Busch could then set his sights on five-time Brickyard 400 winner Jeff Gordon, who scored his wins in 1994, 1998, 2001, 2004, and 2014, and four-time winner Johnson, who brought home victories in 2006, 2008, 2009, and 2012. He’ll also look to best Indiana native Tony Stewart, who won in 2005 and 2007, and Dale Jarrett, who won in 1996 and 1999, in total victories at the Brickyard.
Even the iconic Indianapolis 500, which was won four times each by A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears, has never seen a driver win three times in a row. However, Formula One’s Michael Shumacher won the United States Grand Prix on the Indianapolis road course four years in a row from 2003 to 2006.
While Busch has an impressive 10 top-10 finishes in 12 starts at Indianapolis for an average finish of 9.0 – second among active drivers – he has always been a front-runner there. But until he led the final 19 laps in his first Brickyard 400 victory in 2015 and a whopping 149 of the 170 laps in last year’s victory, Busch had led just 42 laps there prior to 2015. In addition to his strong Cup Series record at Indianapolis, he also has two wins and three top-five finishes in the four Xfinity Series races he’s contested at Indianapolis thus far.
Sunday’s race at Indianapolis also marks the return of the popular, red Skittles paint scheme for the No. 18 Toyota. Along with Busch’s hopes of kissing the famed “Yard of Bricks” yet again Sunday afternoon – a tradition for the winning driver and his team at the century-old speedway – fans will also be able to “Taste the Rainbow” one more time this season as the Skittles car will be on track in September at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois. Busch, who counts Green Apple Skittles among his personal favorite, already competed in the red Skittles scheme at Phoenix International Raceway and Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway this past spring.
So it goes without saying, Busch would like nothing more than to enjoy the taste of Skittles along the famous Yard of Bricks for the third year in a row, since while twice is nice, the third time would be a part of stock car history at Indianapolis.