While the expectation for Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), is to run up front and challenge for wins each week in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, there are particular tracks where Busch excels more others.
One of those places happens to be Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, the site of Sunday's Cup Series Auto Club 400. The Las Vegas native and his Interstate Batteries team will be shooting for his fourth career win at the track located approximately 50 miles east of Los Angeles this weekend.
Busch will pilot the colors of Interstate Batteries at Fontana for the first of six Cup Series races this season. The founding partner of JGR, Interstate Batteries has been powering the championship-winning organization for more than 25 years and is the "Official Battery of Joe Gibbs Racing." This year, the iconic brand is celebrating its 65th anniversary. To commemorate the milestone, special 65th anniversary branding will be featured in each of the paint schemes JGR will race during the 2017 NASCAR season.
While Busch started the season with three disappointing finishes, he got back on track last weekend at Phoenix International Raceway by putting on a dominating performance. He led twice for a race-high 114 laps before a late-race caution foiled his chance at victory. With the season heading back in the right direction, Busch hopes to take that momentum to Southern California this weekend.
After winning back-to-back races at Fontana in 2013 and 2014 - both in dramatic fashion - the 2015 Cup Series champion is looking to add another win to his impressive record at the 2-mile oval. He scored his maiden victory there in September 2005 and overall has rattled off eight top-five finishes and 13 top-10s during his career. Busch also has six Xfinity Series wins at Fontana - October 2008, February 2009 and 2010, October 2010, March 2011 and 2013 -which included a weekend sweep in 2013.
Looking back on his most recent Cup Series wins there, Busch led a race-high 125 laps at Fontana in 2013 and brought home the checkered flag in dramatic fashion as he slid to the outside of the dueling Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin coming off turn four on the final lap. He followed that up in 2014 with another Fontana win despite the fact he was not nearly as dominant, leading just five laps. However, known as one of the premiere Cup drivers when it comes to restarts, Busch showed the field why that day. He restarted fourth late in the race and held off a hard-charging Kyle Larson to bring home his second Fontana win in a row.
So as Busch and the Interstate Batteries team head back to Southern California to finish off the final race of 2017's West Coast swing, Busch will look to bring home his first win of the season at a place where he's charged to the front many times before.
-- Joe Gibbs Racing --