It’s been a career week, followed by a career week for Kyle Busch. That’s how he rolls. And more opportunity awaits this weekend at his hometown Las Vegas Motor Speedway where he will compete in all three of NASCAR’s national racing series.
Last weekend, the 34-year-old Vegas native became the all-time winningest NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series driver claiming his 52nd victory at Atlanta. He holds the same distinction in the Xfinity Series where he has 92 wins.
On Thursday, he announced a contract extension with Joe Gibbs Racing with longtime sponsor Mars Inc. on board to further the effort as well.
Friday night, the 2015 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion won in the first of his three-race homecoming slate in the Truck Series. Saturday he’ll race in the Xfinity Series and cap it off Sunday in the Pennzoil 400 Monster Energy Series race (3:30 p.m. ET, FOX, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) on the 1.5-mile high banks, located on the same racing property he turned his first competitive laps as a kid.
It provides the perfect setting for his important career news – a contract extension with Joe Gibbs Racing.
“My relationship with Joe (Gibbs), JD (Gibbs) and the family has grown a lot of the years and each year I think it gets better and better,’’ Busch said.
“With the time I have been there and talking to them in the middle of 2007, and then being a driver with them since 2008 has meant the most to my career.
And, he added, “It’s all about relationships and I feel like the relationship with M&M’s has continued to get better and grown over the years as well as Toyota. I have a lot of friendships there. With all of that, you never say never but I don’t know if you’d ever really see myself drive anything different than a Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 M&M’s Toyota. Hopefully it stays that way and we know it will stay that way for the foreseeable future. I am certainly looking forward to that.”
The immediate future looks pretty promising too.
Busch shows up in Las Vegas ranked third in the Cup standings with a runner-up finish in the season-opening Daytona 500 followed by a sixth place at Atlanta Motor Speedway last weekend. He and JGR teammate Erik Jones are the only two drivers in the series to score top 10s in both races. He trails championship leader – and another JGR teammate – Denny Hamlin by nine points in the standings.
Like so many of his competitors in Vegas, Busch acknowledges continuing that hot streak is anybody’s bet. This week, NASCAR will use a slightly different technical package than at Atlanta, which was a different rules package than the restrictor-plate Daytona 500.
Busch has one Cup win (2009) at Vegas, but acknowledges this week with a new set of technical rules – a reduction of horsepower and the placement of aero ducts at tracks 1.2-or larger – will perhaps be a game-changer. At the very least, the great unknown.
“People are going to be like, they aren’t so easy to drive.,’’ Busch explained of the new package and what drivers may experience in full field drafts versus a small sample of cars in pre-season testing. “Well, yes and no. We run into one another. When two guys want the same real estate, that will happen.
“Overall, whatever works. Whatever is successful and being able to put more eyes on television and more butts in the seats. That’s what it’s about to put on a show.”
And certainly this week’s venue knows about shows. Even for all that Busch has won – 195 national series victories in the three series (52 in Trucks, 92 in Xfinity and 51 in Cup) – taking the checkered at Las Vegas is a source of pride like no other.
With good reason, Busch absolutely considers himself a favorite in all three events. He’s swept a three-series, three-race weekend twice before in 2010 and 2017– at Bristol, Tenn. – and is the only driver to ever do so.
“It would be pretty sweet,’’ he acknowledged with a grin Friday. “Every time I run a triple, that’s the only thing you think about. But you have to win the first one to win the second one to win the third one. First things first is the Truck race and I think we have a really great Cessna Toyota Tundra. I am looking forward to that tonight.”
For all his success and acclaim, just the opportunity to try such a significant feat was something Busch never assumed. And never at Las Vegas.
“I never knew if winning here would happen for me,’’ Busch said. “Obviously, I have one that I still want to get and don’t know if it will happen either. There is a stress in going into those events.
“For myself, I was able to get that done in 2009 here at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway to get into Victory Lane. That felt good. To able to come back here years after and go out there and race, and not have to worry about the stress of winning that race. You still want to win. We want to win every single one of them. That’s for fact.
“Overall, when you come into your hometown, and we watched this place get built from nothing. It means that extra more to you.”
Friday night he scored his second consecutive truck win and is one step closer to the sweep.
“It’s cool to win here in your home town, being in Las Vegas, starting off a triple weekend,” Busch said. “Hopefully, we can keep it going.”