As the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs take the green flag Sunday at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois, Kyle Busch plans to bring the “heat” to the first race of the postseason.
Busch, driver of the No. 18 Skittles® Sweet Heat Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), will have a new product and a new scheme to start the 10-race playoffs this weekend. The new sweet, yet spicy, candy will debut on the track this weekend and is available at Walgreens stores with a full, nationwide rollout set for early next year.
In the third year of its current format but with a new name, the NASCAR Playoffs begin this weekend with Busch as the third seed among the 16-drivers taking part in the series of elimination rounds over the next 10 races that will determine the 2017 Cup Series champion.
The championship format breaks the 10-race playoffs into a four-round grid. The first round is a round of 16 and features races at Chicagoland, New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon and Dover (Del.) International Speedway. After Dover, four drivers are eliminated and 12 drivers remain for the second round. The three races of the round of 12 will be run at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway, Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, and Kansas Speedway in Kansas City. After Kansas, just eight drivers will remain for the third round. Races at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, and Phoenix International Raceway will comprise the round of eight. After Phoenix, just four drivers will remain for the championship race and season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. At Homestead, the goal is simple – the highest finisher among the final four drivers will be crowned champion.
With fellow Toyota driver Martin Truex Jr. proving to be the dominant force during the 2017 regular season, Busch and the No. 18 team were not far behind.
Along with setting his sights on advancing throughout the playoffs, the 2015 Cup Series champion is looking to rekindle the magic he showed at Chicagoland in 2008 – when he captured a dramatic win at the track just southwest of Chicago – during Sunday’s Tales of the Turtles 400.
Back in 2008, a late-race caution set up a green-white-checkered finish. Busch lined up behind now seven-time Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson. On the final restart, the Las Vegas native made a bold and surprising move to the outside in turns one and two, passing Johnson and holding him off to bring home the win.
As Busch looks ahead to the kickoff of this year’s playoffs at Chicagoland, he and the Skittles Sweet Heat team hope to bring the “heat,” as a win Sunday could go a long way toward helping him and his team bring home their second Cup Series title.