Great To Be ‘Back’
HUNTERSVILLE, North Carolina (Oct. 18, 2022) – There are many reasons why Kyle Busch is looking forward to getting “back” to Homestead-Miami Speedway for Sunday’s 400-miler.
Busch, driver of the No. 18 SKITTLES Lime is Back Toyota Camry TRD for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), returns to South Florida filled with great memories at the 1.5-mile oval, where he has a pair of very special race wins that earned him the title of NASCAR Cup Series Champion in both 2015 and 2019.
Not only has Busch enjoyed plenty of success of intermediate tracks, in general, he’s been in the thick of several Cup Series championship battles at Homestead. He was one of the final four playoff drivers each of the last five seasons the championship race was held at Homestead until it was moved to Phoenix Raceway in 2020. Busch brought home the aforementioned titles in 2015 and 2019 at Homestead, and was the runner-up in 2017. His worst finish in his five-year Championship 4 run at Homestead was sixth place in the 2016 race.
With two wins and four top-five finishes at Homestead over the past seven seasons, Busch has become a strong contender at the variable-banked oval. But the SKITTLES Lime is Back driver hasn’t always been so strong on his visits to Homestead. His first seven starts there netted just one top-10 finish and only one other top-20. But starting with a fourth-place run there in 2012, Busch has reeled off five top-five finishes and nine top-10s in his last 10 starts at Homestead, topped of course by his impressive championship-clinching runs in 2015 and 2019, forever to be fond memories for the Las Vegas native.
With Skittles back on board Busch’s No. 18 Toyota Camry TRD this weekend, the brand will use the opportunity to highlight the return of its Lime flavor due to fan demand after an eight-year hiatus. Race fans can grab packs of Skittles featuring the reinstated Lime flavor at retailers across the country, and enjoy them while following this weekend’s racing action in South Florida.
As Busch heads to Homestead for Sunday’s 400-mile event, the SKITTLES Lime is Back driver may not have that familiar championship-race pressure to deal with, but he’s most certainly aiming to bring home his third Cup Series win at a place that has provided so many great memories over the years.
KYLE BUSCH, Driver of the No. 18 SKITTLES Lime is Back Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:
Safe to say returning to Homestead brings back great memories for you?
“For sure. Obviously, any time you go back to a place where we got to celebrate not one, but two championships, those are great memories I will have, and my family will have, forever. It’s also just a fun place to race. I don’t think there’s any driver who doesn’t get excited to race there, you just have some many options on where to run. We’ve been very good there the last 10 races or so and hoping we can get our SKITTLES Lime is Back Camry TRD back to victory lane there. Would be special to get one more win with JGR and with Mars before we close the season out together.”
From your experience, how has Homestead changed over the last several years?
“The track seems to have aged a little more in recent years, for sure. Definitely a lot of grip for the first few laps, and then it really tapers off, and then everybody is running up next to the fence. I think that’s what we saw in years past. As it got darker in the November races, the track seemed to widen out. It’s just during the day, when it’s hot out and it’s slick out, that the best you can do is run right next to the wall, so expecting some of that this weekend with it being a little bit earlier in the fall. It’s definitely still a racey joint, but track temperatures are very conducive to that. It was definitely different racing there the last couple of years and not having it be for a championship, but it’s always going to be a place where it would be nice to get our SKITTTLES Lime is Back Toyota Camry TRD to victory lane.”
Has Homestead always been a fun track for you?
“Homestead is a fun racetrack, for sure. I didn’t run well there early in my career, but we were able to really step up our performance and we had some big wins there to show for it. It’s really challenging because of the way the race changes from the beginning to the end, and the way things change from the beginning to the end of your runs. You run the bottom, then you go to the top. You’re always moving around. You’re always thinking.”
● Event: Dixie Vodka 400 (Round 34 of 36)
● Time/Date: 2:30 p.m. EDT on Sunday, Oct. 23
● Location: Homestead-Miami Speedway
● Layout: 1.5-mile oval
● Laps/Miles: 267 laps, 400.5 miles
● Format: Stage 1: 80 laps / Stage 2: 85 laps / Final Stage: 102 laps
● TV/Radio: NBC / MRN / SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Meet the No. 18 SKITTLES Lime is Back / Joe Gibbs Racing Team
Primary Team Members:
Driver: Kyle Busch
Hometown: Las Vegas
Crew Chief: Ben Beshore
Hometown: York, Pennsylvania
Car Chief: Nate Bellows
Hometown: Fairfax, Vermont
Spotter: Tony Hirschman
Hometown: Northampton, Pennsylvania
Race Engineer: Seth Chavka
Hometown: Soldotna, Alaska
Race Engineer: Jaik Halpainy
Hometown: Blockville, New York
Over-The-Wall Crew Members:
Gas Man: Justin White
Hometown: Lynnville, Tennessee
Front Tire Changer: Blake Houston
Hometown: China Grove, North Carolina
Jackman: Derrell Edwards
Hometown: Baltimore, Maryland
Tire Carrier: Jake Holmes
Hometown: Westborough, Massachusetts
Rear Tire Changer: Mike Hicks
Hometown: Providence, Rhode Island
Road Crew Members:
Engine Tuner: Dan Bajek
Hometown: Camden, New York
Truck Driver: Chris Miko
Hometown: Bronx, New York
Truck Driver: Eloy Trevino
Hometown: Adrian, Michigan
Mechanic/Tire Specialist: Justin Peiffer
Hometown: Lebanon, Pennsylvania
Mechanic: Scott Eldridge
Hometown: Warsaw, Indiana
Mechanic: Tony Hamm
Hometown: Walla, Walla, Washington
Notes of Interest:
● All in the Stats:Busch has two wins, five top-five finishes and 10 top-10s and has led a total of 465 laps in 17 career Cup Series starts at Homestead. Busch’s average Homestead finish is 15.4.
● Homestead Turnaround: Busch did not take very well to the 1.5-mile South Florida oval at the start of his career. In fact, he didn’t record a top-five finish during his first seven starts there, including six finishes of 19th or worse. In 2012, Busch started to turn the corner when he recorded his first Homestead top-five. The Las Vegas native elevated his game there to a whole new level in 2015 when he not only won for the first time, but brought home his first Cup Series title that day. Starting with that 2015 victory, Busch has not finished outside the top-10 in those seven starts, which includes the two victories among five top-fives.
● 1.5-Mile Success: The two-time Cup Series champion has totaled 16 wins at 1.5-mile tracks among his 60 career victories in NASCAR’s top series.
● First Title Memories: Busch’s road to his first Cup Series title in 2015 was anything but ordinary. He showed a lot of heart and confidence leading into the Homestead finale that season, but the year started with Busch missing the first 11 races while recovering from leg and foot injuries suffered in February’s NASCAR Xfinity Series season opener at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. The No. 18 driver rallied back from injuries to not only score enough points to qualify for the playoffs, he won four regular-season races in the process. Just being able to be Championship 4-eligible at Homestead was quite the feat for Busch and the No. 18 team. Playing with house money, so to speak, Busch drove impressively that November day, leading six times for a total of 41 laps and bringing home the title that seemed so unlikely earlier in the year.
● Close Calls: While Cup Series championships in 2015 and 2019 were memorable for Busch, he also had some close calls that could have netted him additional championships to celebrate at Homestead. In 2016, championship contenders Carl Edwards and Joey Logano got into a late-race accident that opened the door for another title for Busch. However, after heading to pit road for the last stop of the day, Busch rejoined the race too far back for a realistic shot to win with only a two-lap shootout left to go. Things looked good again in 2017, when Busch led 43 laps, but an untimely caution flag waved while he was a half-lap ahead of the next title contender. Busch rallied from just inside the top-10 but could not catch his now-JGR teammate Martin Truex Jr., who won the race and the championship with Busch finishing just .681 of a second behind in the runner-up spot.
● 224 and Counting: Busch will be aiming to add to his record 224 overall wins among NASCAR’s top three series this weekend at Homestead-Miami. In addition to his 60 Cup Series wins and 102 in the Xfinity Series, Busch has 62 wins in the Camping World Truck Series.