The NASCAR Cup Series Round of 12 begins on Sunday, Sept. 26, with a race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (7 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network). There are three total dates in the round before the field drops to eight drivers, but Kyle Busch is not looking too far ahead. His focus remains on kicking off the round with a very strong performance.
The driver of the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry provided some insight into his preparation in a press release issued by the team. He explained that most Cup Series teams try to put extra emphasis on Vegas due to it being the first race of the Round of 12 and that Talladega Superspeedway and the Charlotte Roval serve as “wild cards” for the drivers and their crew chiefs.
“I think everyone heads to Las Vegas putting a lot of pressure on themselves to make sure they run well in that event because they know what the next two races have in store for them,” Busch explained. “If you asked any crew chief what race are they are most focused on in that round, they would all tell you Vegas to try and have a good race. With having that much focus on that race, it’s going to make that one tough, as well. You just go out there and do the best you can do.”
Busch Achieved a Lifelong Goal at Las Vegas Motor Speedway
The driver of the No. 18 Toyota is one of the multiple drivers hailing from Sin City. His brother Kurt is also on the list alongside Riley Herbst and Noah Gragson among others. The two Xfinity Series drivers in Herbst and Gragson have yet to win at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in one of the top three series while Kurt reached Victory Lane during the 2020 Cup Series playoffs.
The younger Busch, on the other hand, has achieved a major goal at his hometown track. He locked up wins across the top three series — Truck, Xfinity, and Cup. Busch first won at Las Vegas in his Cup Series career in 2009. He started on the pole for the Shelby 427 and led 51 laps en route to the win.
Busch added two more wins in the Xfinity Series, one in 2016 and one in 2019. He also won three consecutive Truck Series races at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, reaching Victory Lane each year from 2018-2020 while driving a Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota Tundra.
“I used to put more stress on myself to win there, no doubt. I never knew if winning there would happen for me and it’s neat I’ve been able to win in all three series at Vegas,” Busch added in the press release. “There is stress going into those events. For myself, I was able to get that done in 2009 there at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, to get into Victory Lane. That felt good. To be able to go back there 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 a fact. Overall, when you come into your hometown, and we watched this place get built from nothing, it means that extra more to you and it would be great if we could get back to victory lane this weekend with our M&M’S Camry.”
Busch Has Bigger Goals in Mind for the Fall Las Vegas Race
Winning a race at his hometown track is always a goal, but Busch will be fighting for even more when he suits up on Sunday, Sept. 26. He is one of the 12 drivers remaining in the playoffs, and he has the goal of winning his third Cup Series championship.
Busch will enter the Round of 12 fifth overall in the standings. He is nine points above the cutline and sits in a better position than Kevin Harvick, William Byron, Christopher Bell, Alex Bowman, Chase Elliott, Joey Logano, and Brad Keselowski. He is also only two points behind Ryan Blaney and Denny Hamlin.
The fact that Busch reached the Round of 12 is a testament to the No. 18 team’s ability to forget past issues. He crashed early during the playoff-opening race at Darlington on Sept. 5, relegating him to a 35th-place finish. However, Busch bounced back at Richmond with a ninth-place run on Sept. 11 and then finished out the Round of 16 with a 21st-place finish at Bristol Motor Speedway. He managed to accumulate enough points to survive and advance, but now he will focus on winning at Las Vegas.