Of the 40 drivers set to compete in the Inaugural NASCAR Cup Series Go Bowling 325 Sunday on the Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway road course, there’s only one driver in the field who has competed this season on the 3.57-mile layout – Kyle Busch.
While Busch, driver of the No. 18 SNICKERS Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), indeed competed on the Daytona road course in 2020, it was a completely different kind of car and race as he drove the a GTD-class Lexus RC F GT3 sportscar for AIM Vasser Sullivan in January’s Rolex 24.
While the defending Cup Series champion has some experience on Daytona’s road course layout, his team does not. Cup Series teams won’t even be able to get any track time ahead of Sunday’s race. So it will largely be a guessing game for all the teams in NASCAR’s top series as they will not see a lap on the course at race pace before the green flag waves. In addition to the unknowns, NASCAR has added a chicane at the exit of the superspeedway oval’s turn four to help slow speeds as cars approach the infield portion of the course, a wrinkle Busch did not get to test during his Rolex 24 stint in January.
Busch will add another road-course start to his resume this weekend and he could also join some elite company as a road-racing ace in NASCAR’s top series. The SNICKERS driver’s four road-course wins tie him with retired drivers David Pearson and Mark Martin on the all-time Cup Series road-course wins list. That’s some pretty good company, already. But with a fifth road-course win, Busch could tie Darrell Waltrip, Tim Richmond and Dan Gurney on the list at five. There is a bit of distance to the top two spots on the all-time road-course wins list, of course, when it comes to catching Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart, who have nine and eight career road-course wins, respectively.
Busch scored his fourth career Cup Series road-course win in June 2015 at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway, and he heads to Daytona with 11 top-five finishes and 19-top-10s at the traditional road-course stops on the schedule with 32 combined starts at Sonoma, Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International and the Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway “roval.”
So as Busch prepares for some road racing this weekend, he would like to accomplish a few things – including another tally in the win column for SNICKERS colors while also adding to the record books as one of NASCAR’s best road-course racers. Busch will head to the great unknown this weekend in hopes of showing his Rolex 24 experience from January may give him a leg up on the competition, who will be taking their best guesses on how to get to victory lane on Sunday.