Kyle Busch to make 550th Cup start at Indianapolis

With big brother Kurt set to achieve a milestone start of his NASCAR Cup Series career, Kyle Busch will also make a milestone start of his own at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday, July 5. By taking the green flag for the Big Machine Hand Sanitizer 400, the younger Busch will reach 550 starts in NASCAR’s premier series. The milestone comes in his 16th season racing in the Cup Series, 13th in the No. 18 Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing.

A native from Las Vegas, Nevada, and the younger brother to the 2004 Cup champion Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch made his Cup debut at his hometrack, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, in March 2004 and in the No. 84 CARQUEST Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports. At the time, he was competing for the team on a full-time basis in the Xfinity Series, where he won five races, finished second in the final standings and claimed the series Rookie-of-the-Year title. He finished 41st in his Cup debut due to a crash and competed in five more races throughout the 2004 season, scoring a best result of 24th at California Speedway in September.

The following season, Busch was promoted as full-time driver of the No. 5 Kellogg’s Chevrolet in the NASCAR Cup Series. Following an up-and-down season, Busch achieved his first Cup win in his 31st series start at California Speedway in September 2005. At that time, Busch became the youngest winner in the Cup Series’ history at age 20 years, four months and two days. Despite missing the Chase for the Cup, Busch achieved his second Cup victory at Phoenix International Raceway in November 2005 following a late battle with Greg Biffle. To go along with a pole, nine top-five results and 13 top-10 results with a final standings result of 20th, Busch claimed the 2005 Cup Rookie-of-the-Year title. Busch continued driving the No. 5 Kellogg’s/CARQUEST Chevrolet for HMS in 2006 and 2007, winning one race apiece and tallying one pole, 21 top-five finishes and 38 top-10 finishes with a best points result of fifth in 2007.

When the 2007 season concluded, Busch was replaced at Hendrick Motorsports by Dale Earnhardt Jr. and he joined forces with Joe Gibbs Racing to pilot the No. 18 Toyota Camry sponsored by Mars Inc. and Interstate Batteries. In his first race with the team, Busch led a race-high 86 laps in the Daytona 500 before finishing in fourth. After finishing fourth the following week at Auto Club Speedway, Busch emerged as the points leader for the first time in his Cup career. Two races later, Busch notched his first win with JGR and recorded the first Cup win for crew chief Steve Addington and the Toyota nameplate at Atlanta Motor Speedway. From there, Busch went on a hot streak as he won seven more races across seven different tracks, (all of which he won at for the first time), and entered the 2008 Chase for the Cup as one of the title favorites. He, however, recorded three consecutive finishes outside the top 20 in the first three Chase races, which left him eliminated from title contention. He concluded the 2008 Cup season in 10th in the final standings.

The following season, Busch won four races, which included his hometrack, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and winning on his 24th birthday at Richmond International Raceway in May, but he missed the Chase by eight points to Brian Vickers. Despite the up-and-down season in the Cup Series, he went on to win his first NASCAR Xfinity Series title after achieving nine victories throughout the season. The 2010 season was a record-breaking season for Busch as he won 24 races across NASCAR’s three major division series, three of which came in the Cup Series while paired with new crew chief Dave Rogers. The racing events at Bristol Motor Speedway from August 18-21 marked a major milestone moment for Busch, when he became the first NASCAR competitor to win across all three major division series in the same weekend at the exact racetrack. He made the Chase in 2010, but concluded the season in eighth in the final standings.

Between 2011 and 2012, Busch tallied five Cup wins, three poles, 27 top-five finishes and 38 top-10 finishes, though he finished 12th and 13th in the final standings within the two years. By then, he had surpassed 100 wins across NASCAR’s three major division series and he had also won the inaugural Cup race at Kentucky Speedway in 2011. He rebounded in 2013 by winning four races and three poles along with 16 top-five results and 22 top-10 results to conclude the season in fourth in the final standings after making the Chase for the sixth time in his career. Among Busch’s Cup highlights in 2013 was dodging a last lap incident involving teammate Denny Hamlin and ex-teammate Joey Logano to win at Auto Club Speedway in March and winning at Texas Motor Speedway in April in his 300th series start. To July 2020, Busch is one of seven competitors to win in career start number 300.

After winning only once in 2014 and concluding the season in 10th in the final standings, Busch was paired with Xfinity Series crew chief Adam Stevens for the 2015 Cup season. Then came February 21, when Busch was involved in a late multi-car wreck and made head-on contact into a concrete wall installed with no SAFER barriers. He was transported to the Halifax Medical Center, where he was diagnosed with a massive compound fracture in the lower right leg along with a small fracture in his left foot. The wreck left Busch on the sidelines for the first 11 Cup races into the season, though he was granted an injury waiver that would allow him to make the Chase as long as he met the qualification standards. In May, Busch returned as driver of JGR’s No. 18 Toyota and in June, he achieved his first victory of the season at Sonoma Raceway. The win at Sonoma completed the first phase for Busch to make the Chase as he needed consistent runs through September to be guaranteed a spot. He then went on a hot streak, winning three consecutive races, (Kentucky Speedway, New Hampshire Motor Speedway and at Indianapolis Motor Speedway), and earning enough consistent finishes and points to qualify for the Chase. Following a consistent run throughout the Chase, Busch raced his way into the Championship Round at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22 and as the only JGR competitor still in contention for the title. On that day, Busch won the finale and claimed his first NASCAR Cup Series championship in his 11th season. To go along with Busch’s first title, it was the first Cup title for crew chief Adam Stevens, the first for Joe Gibbs Racing since 2005, the first for Mars Inc. and for Toyota. Busch also became the first competitor to win a Cup title despite not competing the entire season since Richard Petty made the last accomplishment in 1971.

From 2016 to 2018, Busch won 17 more Cup races and tallied 14 poles, 53 top-five results and 75 top-10 results, all while reaching the Championship Round in all three seasons with a best result of second in 2017. Among his achievements within the three seasons included winning at Martinsville Speedway, Kansas Speedway and Pocono Raceway for the first time, winning his second straight Brickyard 400 victory in 2016, claiming his first All-Star win at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May 2017, winning across all three division series at Bristol in August 2017, becoming the first driver to record a win in every active NASCAR Cup track following his first Coca-Cola 600 victory at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May 2018 and surpassing 50 Cup wins following the 2018 season.

Last season, in his 12th season driving for JGR, Busch reached his 500th Cup start at Atlanta in February, a week after finishing second to teammate Denny Hamlin in the season-opening Daytona 500. He finished sixth in his milestone start and in third the following week at his hometrack in Las Vegas. The following week, he achieved his first victory of the 2019 Cup season at Phoenix in March and returned the following week by winning at Auto Club Speedway. On that day, Busch recorded his 200th victory across NASCAR’s three major division series. He won two more races throughout the regular season to make the Playoffs. He was able to race his way into the Championship Round and win the finale at Homestead to claim his second Cup championship.

This season, through the first 15 races of the 2020 Cup season, Kyle Busch has recorded seven top-five finishes and eight top-10 finishes, and is ranked 11th in the regular-season standings, trailing points leader Kevin Harvick by 158 points. He has won a total of 56 Cup races, though he continues to pursue his first victory of the season. Sunday’s race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway will mark Busch’s 16th Cup start at the famed racetrack and at a place where he has won twice in back-to-back seasons in 2015 and 2016 along with recording 10 top-10 results and averaging a result of 12.47. He is also a four-time winner at the venue’s oval-shaped layout in the Xfinity Series. Busch will also look to become the third NASCAR competitor to achieve three Cup wins at Indianapolis.

Catch Kyle Busch’s milestone start on July 5 for the Big Machine Hand Sanitizer 400 at 4 p.m. ET on NBC.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of

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