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Kyle Busch Motorsports to surpass 750 combined Truck Series starts at Mid-Ohio

With the 2022 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series regular season stretch reaching its conclusion, Kyle Busch Motorsports is set to surpass a milestone start in the team’s 13th season in Truck competition. When KBM drivers Corey Heim, John Hunter Nemechek and Chandler Smith compete in this weekend’s inaugural event at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, KBM will surpass a combined 750 career starts in the Truck Series.

Kyle Busch Motorsports debuted in the NASCAR Truck Series in 2010 with trucks purchased from Roush Fenway Racing and assets acquired from Xpress Motorsports as the team headquartered in Mooresville, North Carolina. By then, Busch had campaigned in seven part-time seasons in the series while accumulating 16 victories, all occurring with Billy Ballew Motorsports.

For the 2010 season, Kyle Busch Motorsports planned on fielding three trucks: one that would be split between Busch and Brian Ickler, another that would be driven on a full-time basis by Taylor Malsam and a third that would be piloted by former champion Johnny Benson Jr. pending additional sponsorships. Prior to the start of the season, however, Miccosukee Resorts, one of Busch’s key Truck sponsors that initially followed him to KBM from Billy Ballew Motorsports, terminated its partnership with NASCAR and left Busch without a full-time sponsor throughout his part-time campaign. In addition, Benson’s role was limited to a part-time status as he shared the No. 18 Toyota Tundra entry with Busch, Ickler and Kasey Kahne while the second KBM entry, the No. 56 Toyota Tundra that was piloted by Malsam, was terminated following the first seven events. Despite the rocky start, it only took the first four events of the season for Kyle Busch to record the first victory for KBM at Nashville Superspeedway in April 2010. Busch went on to achieve victories at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May, Bristol Motor Speedway and Chicagoland Speedway in August, New Hampshire Motor Speedway in September, Talladega Superspeedway in October and at Texas Motor Speedway in November, all occurring in the No. 18 entry. After winning the season-finale event at Homestead-Miami Speedway in November following a four-lap shootout, Busch captured the 2010 Truck Series owners’ championship on the strength of eight victories in 16 starts throughout the 25-race schedule. In total, KBM achieved eight victories, six poles, 16 top-five results and 21 top-10 results in its first season in NASCAR competition.

For the team’s second season in 2011, Busch fielded the No. 18 Toyota Tundra as the primary, “all-star” entry that was split between himself, Kasey Kahne, Brian Ickler, Josh Richards and Denny Hamlin. Busch also fielded the Nos. 15 and 51 entries that both campaigned in limited events and was shared between Kimi Räikkönen, German Quiroga and Richards. Throughout the 2011 Truck season, Busch notched six victories in 16 starts, Kahne won at Darlington Raceway in March and Hamlin notched his first Truck victory at Martinsville Speedway in October, all occurring in KBM’s No. 18 entry. Despite accumulating a total of eight victories, two poles, 16 top-five results and 18 top-10 results throughout the 25-race schedule, the No. 18 entry settled in second place in the final owners’ standings behind the No. 2 Kevin Harvick Inc. entry.

The 2012 Truck season was a difficult season for Kyle Busch Motorsports despite the team fielding the No. 18 Toyota Tundra on a full-time basis for a third consecutive season while the No. 51 Toyota Tundra competed the final five scheduled events with Quiroga and Hamlin behind the wheel. At the start of the season, veteran Jason Leffler piloted the No. 18 Toyota as the team’s primary competitor, but was released in August after only recording six top-10 results through the first 10 events. For the remainder of the season, the No. 18 entry was split between Busch, Hamlin, Brian Scott, Kurt Busch, Drew Herring and David Mayhew. After going winless for the majority of the season, Hamlin recorded the first victory of 2012 for KBM when he piloted the No. 51 Toyota to a win at Martinsville in October. Two races later, Scott overtook rookie Kyle Larson during a two-lap shootout to wheel the No. 18 Toyota to a late victory at Phoenix Raceway in November. In the end, KBM capped off the season with Busch being edged by Cale Gale in a photo finish at Homestead as Busch concluded a Truck season winless for the first time since 2004.

In 2013, Kyle Busch Motorsports fielded three full-time entries for the first time in the team’s history with the No. 51 Toyota Tundra entry becoming the team’s “all-star” entry that was piloted between Busch, Erik Jones, Chad Hackenbracht, Scott Bloomquist and Hamlin throughout the 22-race schedule. For the new season, the No. 18 Toyota Tundra entry was taken sole possession by full-time competitor Joey Coulter while KBM’s No. 54 Toyota Tundra entry debuted for newcomer Bubba Wallace. Through the first 20 events, the No. 51 entry visited Victory Lane four times, all with Busch. At Phoenix in November, Jones became the youngest winner in the series at age 17 years, five months and nine days after recording his first career victory in KBM’s No. 51 truck. During the following weekend at Homestead, Busch survived three late-race restarts to capture his fifth win of the 2013 season and clinch the owners’ title for his No. 51 entry in a tie-breaker against ThorSport Racing’s No. 88 entry piloted by the 2013 drivers’ champion Matt Crafton. Meanwhile, the No. 18 entry that was piloted by Coulter achieved a total of five top-10 results and a 15th-place result in the final drivers’ standings while the No. 54 entry managed to earn a trip to Victory Lane at Martinsville in October as Wallace became the first African-American competitor to win in the Truck Series. To go along with his first Truck career victory, Wallace capped off his first full-time campaign in the series with a pole, five top-five results, 12 top-10 results and an eighth-place result in the drivers’ standings.

Photo by Kala Perkins for SpeedwayMedia.com.

The 2014 season was a breakout year for Kyle Busch Motorsports, which featured Busch and Erik Jones splitting driving responsibilities of the No. 51 Toyota Tundra while Bubba Wallace returned as the driver of the No. 54 Toyota Tundra. In total, KBM won 14 of the 22 races to the schedule as Busch and Jones, both of whom earned a combined 10 victories, guided the No. 51 entry to the team’s third owners’ championship. Wallace piloted the No. 54 truck to four victories, two poles, nine top-five results and 14 top-10 results as he finished in third place in the final drivers’ standings. 

A month following the conclusion of the 2014 season, Kyle Busch Motorsports unveiled its driver lineup for the 2015 season with Erik Jones headlining the lineup as he was promoted to a full-time Truck Series campaign in the No. 4 Toyota Tundra while newcomer Justin Boston replaced Bubba Wallace, who graduated to the Xfinity Series with Roush Fenway Racing, in the No. 54 Toyota Tundra. Meanwhile, KBM’s No. 51 Toyota Tundra team remained as an “all-star” entry that was split between Busch, Daniel Suarez, Matt Tifft and Christopher Bell. Early in the season, Suarez and Tifft served as the primary competitors of the No. 51 entry with Busch recovering from injuries sustained in a late multi-car wreck during the Xfinity season-opening event at Daytona in February. Boston, however, was released by KBM nine races into the new season due to a breech of contract involving the driver and his sponsor Zloop. With Boston out, the No. 54 entry was split between Tifft, Cody Coughlin, Gray Gaulding, Bell and Busch, who returned to full-time competition in May. Despite the early season drama for KBM, Bell captured his first career victory at Eldora Speedway in July following a two-lap shootout while Busch piloted the No. 51 truck to two victories at Pocono Raceway and at Michigan International Speedway between July and August. Meanwhile, Jones earned victories at Iowa Speedway in June, Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in August and at Texas Motor Speedway in November. To go along with five poles, 11 top-five results and 20 top-10 results, Jones claimed the 2015 Truck Series championship following a sixth-place result at Homestead and by 15 points over Tyler Reddick and 22 over Matt Crafton. With Jones’ accomplishment, Kyle Busch Motorsports achieved its first drivers’ championship along with its fourth owners’ title in NASCAR.

Photo by Don Dunn for SpeedwayMedia.com.

The 2016 Truck Series season featured another new driver lineup for Kyle Busch Motorsports as Bell, coming off his first career victory at Eldora, replaced Erik Jones, who moved up to the Xfinity Series with Joe Gibbs Racing, as the driver of the No. 4 Toyota Tundra while William Byron, the reigning ARCA Menards Series East champion who made his Truck debut with KBM at Phoenix in November during the previous season, piloted the No. 9 Toyota Tundra. The No. 51 Toyota Tundra entry was split between Daniel Suarez, Cody Coughlin, Jones and Gary Klutt throughout the season while the No. 18 KBM entry made a total of five starts between Busch, Coughlin and Harrison Burton. Throughout the season, Busch wheeled the No. 18 truck to victories at Martinsville in April and at Chicagoland Speedway in September while Suarez drove the No. 51 Toyota to his first Truck career victory at Phoenix in November. The No. 9 Toyota team piloted by Byron achieved great success throughout the season with the Charlotte native earning his first career victory at Kansas Speedway in May after dodging a final lap incident involving Johnny Sauter and Ben Rhodes. He went on to win at Texas and Iowa Speedway in June followed by Kentucky Speedway in July as KBM became the winningest team in the Truck Series with 51 victories. After Byron won at Pocono in July, he established a new record for achieving the most victories by a rookie Truck competitor with five. After qualifying for the inaugural 2016 Truck Playoffs, he won the first postseason event at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in September and utilized consistency to transfer all the way to the Playoff’s Round of 6. Byron’s title hopes, however, came to an end at Phoenix in November after his No. 9 entry suffered an engine failure with 10 laps remaining while he was leading, which prevented him from earning a ticket to the Championship Round at Homestead. Nonetheless, he went on to win the season-finale event at Homestead for his unprecedented seventh victory of the season as he wrapped up both the 2016 Rookie-of-the-Year title and the fifth career owners’ title for KBM. In comparison to Byron and the No. 9 team, Bell and the No. 4 team rallied from a rocky start to generate a consistent regular season run, including a victory at Gateway in June, to qualify for the Playoffs. Bell remained consistent throughout the Playoffs to make it all the way to the Championship Round at Homestead and contend for the drivers’ title. During the finale, however, Bell finished in eighth place on the track and in third place in the final drivers’ standings.

Photo by Simon Scoggins for SpeedwayMedia.com.

For the 2017 season, Kyle Busch Motorsports retained Bell as driver of the No. 4 Toyota Tundra while welcoming Noah Gragson as a full-time competitor of KBM’s No. 18 Toyota Tundra. Busch remained as a part-time competitor of his No. 51 Toyota Tundra as he split the ride with rookies Harrison Burton, Todd Gilliland and Myatt Snider while also debuting the No. 46 Toyota Tundra for a total of four events, with himself and Gilliland earning two events apiece. Busch earned a total of three victories throughout the 2017 Truck season: two in the No. 51 entry at Kansas and at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May and one in the No. 46 entry at Bristol Motor Speedway in August. In addition, the No. 51 team earned a total of nine top-10 results and settled in fourth place in the final owners’ standings. For the No. 18 entry, Gragson earned his first career victory at Martinsville in October following a late duel with former champions Matt Crafton and Johnny Sauter. To go along with three poles, four top-five results and 13 top-10 results, Gragson finished in 10th place in the final drivers’ standings and in his first full-time Truck campaign. For Bell, who entered the season as a potential title favorite, he achieved five victories along with five poles, 15 top-five results and 21 top-10 results as he made his second consecutive appearance both in the Playoffs and in the Championship Round at Homestead. During the finale, Bell finished in the runner-up spot on the track and captured the 2017 Truck Series drivers’ championship over Sauter, Austin Cindric and Crafton. With his first championship in NASCAR, Bell recorded the second drivers’ championship and the sixth owners’ title overall for KBM.

Photo by Tim Jarrold for SpeedwayMedia.com.

During the following season, Busch retained Gragson in the No. 18 KBM Toyota Tundra while Todd Gilliland contended for the 2018 Truck Rookie-of-the-Year title in the No. 4 Toyota Tundra, thus replacing Bell as Bell became a full-time Xfinity competitor for Joe Gibbs Racing. Gilliland, however, missed four of the first six events due to age restrictions and spent the early portions of the season splitting the No. 4 Toyota with his father David, Busch and newcomer Spencer Davis while Davis, Busch, David Gilliland, Harrison Burton, Brandon Jones, Riley Herbst, Logan Seavey and Christopher Bell took turns piloting the No. 51 Toyota Tundra. The No. 46 KBM Toyota Tundra also returned for a total of six events that was split between Brandon Jones, Herbst and newcomer Christian Eckes. Throughout the season, the No. 46 entry’s best on-track result was third at Charlotte in May made by Jones while the No. 4 entry achieved a season-best result of second place at Gateway in June with Todd Gilliland, who finished in 10th place in the final drivers’ standings. The No. 51 entry went to Victory Lane twice during the season with Busch at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in March and at Pocono in July while Gragson wheeled the No. 18 entry to a dominant win at Kansas in May. Despite being absent at Pocono due to illness, where he was replaced by Erik Jones, Gragson utilized consistency to qualify for the 2018 Truck Playoffs and transfer all the way to the Championship Round at Homestead, where he settled in the runner-up spot in the final drivers’ standings.  

The 2019 season featured Harrison Burton replacing Noah Gragson, who graduated to the Xfinity Series, as the driver of Kyle Busch Motorsports’ No. 18 Toyota Tundra while Todd Gilliland remained as a full-time driver of the No. 4 Toyota Tundra. Meanwhile, the No. 51 Toyota Tundra entry returned as the “all-star” entry that was split between Busch, Eckes, Brandon Jones, Greg Biffle, Chandler Smith, Alex Tagliani and Riley Herbst. The No. 46 Toyota Tundra entry returned for a total of seven events that was split between Herbst, Smith and Raphaël Lessard. In comparison to recent seasons, KBM endured a difficult 2019 season as both Burton and Gilliland did not make the Playoffs. While Burton finished in 12th place in the final drivers’ standings with no victories and 11 top-10 results, Gilliland managed to record his first Truck career victory at Martinsville in October along with 14 top-10 results before settling in 11th place in the final standings. With the No. 46 entry finishing no higher than fourth at Gateway in June made by Chandler Smith, the No. 51 entry won six of the 23-scheduled events: five with Busch and one with Biffle. To go along with a total of 15 top-five results and 17 top-10 results throughout the 23-race schedule, the No. 51 entry managed to capture the 2019 Truck owners’ title as KBM achieved its seventh owners’ championship in NASCAR.

Photo by Brad Keppel for SpeedwayMedia.com.

For the following season, Kyle Busch Motorsports introduced new drivers to the Nos. 4 and 18 entries as Harrison Burton moved up to the Xfinity Series with Joe Gibbs Racing while Todd Gilliland moved over to Front Row Motorsports. The No. 18 Toyota was taken over by Christian Eckes while Raphaël Lessard took over the No. 4 Toyota. The No. 51 Toyota also returned as Busch, Brandon Jones, Chandler Smith, Riley Herbst and Alex Tagliani took turns to drive the truck throughout the season. In his first full-time campaign in the series, Eckes qualified for the 2020 Truck Playoffs, but was eliminated from title contention following the Round of 10 as he ended up in eighth place in the final drivers’ standings with no victories and 11 top-10 results. Lessard, on the other hand, did not make the Playoffs, but he managed to capture his first career victory at Talladega in October along with a total of seven top-10 results before finishing in 12th place in the final standings. Meanwhile, the No. 51 entry went to Victory Lane four times: three with Busch and once with Brandon Jones, who captured his first elusive series win at Pocono in June. To go along with a total of 10 results in the top five, the No. 51 entry settled in sixth place in the final owners’ standings.

This past season, Kyle Busch Motorsports welcomed John Hunter Nemechek as the driver of the No. 4 Toyota Tundra, where he replaced Lessard, while Chandler Smith replaced Christian Eckes as a full-time competitor of the No. 18 Toyota Tundra. The No. 51 Toyota Tundra remained as the “all-star” entry for a ninth consecutive season as the truck was piloted between Busch, Drew Dollar, Parker Chase, Martin Truex Jr., Corey Heim, Brian Brown, Derek Griffith and Dylan Lupton throughout the 22-race schedule. Three races into the new season, Nemechek recorded his first win with KBM at Las Vegas in March before the No. 51 entry visited Victory Lane during the following two events: the first with Busch at Atlanta and the second at the Bristol Motor Speedway Dirt Course with Truex, who claimed his first Truck career victory. Not long after, Nemechek fended off Busch to win at Richmond Raceway before Busch capitalized on a late restart to win at Kansas. Those five victories followed by three additional victories by Nemechek capped off a strong regular season stretch as Nemechek, who claimed the regular season championship, and Chandler Smith qualified for the 2021 Truck Playoffs. During the Playoffs, Smith claimed his first Truck career victory at Bristol in September to advance from the Round of 10 to 8 along with Nemechek. During the Round of 8, Smith’s title hopes evaporated while Nemechek was able to earn enough points through consistency to secure a spot in the Championship 4 finale at Phoenix Raceway. An early tire issued, however, derailed Nemechek’s title hopes as he ended up in third place in the final drivers’ standings while Smith won the finale and captured the 2021 Truck Rookie-of-the-Year title. Meanwhile, the No. 51 entry settled in 10th place in the owners’ standings.

This season, Kyle Busch Motorsports retained John Hunter Nemechek and Chandler Smith as drivers of the Nos. 4 and 18 entries, respectively. In addition, Corey Heim returned with an expanded part-time Truck schedule as he split the No. 51 entry with Kyle Busch and Buddy Kofoid. Through the first 14 scheduled events, all three KBM entries have visited Victory Lane at least once, with Smith winning at Las Vegas in March, Nemechek winning at Darlington in May, Busch winning at Sonoma Raceway in June and Heim recording his first two career victories in the series at Atlanta in March followed by Gateway in June. Heim is scheduled to take over the No. 51 entry for the remainder of the season as he contends for the 2022 Truck Rookie-of-the-Year title while Nemechek and Smith, both of whom are pursuing their first championship in NASCAR, are guaranteed spots for the 2022 Truck Playoffs.

Photo by Simon Scoggins for SpeedwayMedia.com.
Photo by David Myers for SpeedwayMedia.com.

Through a combined 749 Truck starts, Kyle Busch Motorsports has achieved two drivers’ championships, a record seven owners’ championships, 95 victories, 63 poles, 276 top-five results, 439 top-10 results and 13,196 laps led with 51 different competitors making at least one start for the organization.

Kyle Busch Motorsports is primed to surpass 750 career starts in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on Saturday, July 9, with coverage to occur at 1:30 p.m. ET on FS1.



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

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