For as long as anyone can remember, the State of Kentucky and Horse Racing have been synonymous – from the state’s many horse farms to the world’s most famous horse-racing track, Churchill Downs in Louisville. Several of the 13 thoroughbreds that have won the Triple Crown came through the state’s various training grounds, including 1973 Triple Crown winner Secretariat, 1977’s Seattle Slew, 1978’s Affirmed and, most recently 2015’s American Pharoah and this year’s Justify.
Just 65 miles up Interstate 71 from Churchill Downs sits Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, where horsepower of a different kind has been showcased over the years featuring an impressive array of auto racing “thoroughbreds.”
One of the very best competitors in the relatively short history of Kentucky Speedway happens to be Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 SNICKERS® Intense Flavors Toyota whose record there has proven to be not unlike the state’s most top-notch thoroughbreds. Busch is always optimistic about his chances to win at one of his best tracks statistically, and he’ll look to score a record third Kentucky win during Saturday night’s Quaker State 400 at the 1.5-mile oval.
The 2015 Cup Series champion has notched multiple victories at Kentucky in all three of NASCAR’s top divisions – Cup, Xfinity, and Camping World Truck. Add his 2003 ARCA series win at Kentucky and Busch has been victorious in four racing divisions and has made quite a Kentucky home of his own in the Bluegrass State’s second-most-famous victory lane.
Busch hopes to continue his strong record Saturday night at Kentucky, where he won two of the track’s first five races, including its inaugural Cup Series race in 2011 and, most recently, in July 2015. The heavily worn racing surface and quirky Kentucky layout Busch navigated to win both Cup Series races is gone, replaced by a newly repaved surface two seasons ago, along with a slight reconfiguration of turns one and two. Busch managed a fifth-place finish on the new surface in 2016, and he scored his sixth top-10 in seven Kentucky Cup Series races in 2017 with an eighth-place finish.
In the inaugural Cup Series event at Kentucky in 2011, Busch proved his worth when he led six times for a race-high 125 laps to be the historic first winner in NASCAR’s top series in the state. He enters Saturday night’s race tied with Matt Kenseth with an average Kentucky finish of 5.1. He also leads the series in several statistical categories after the six races contested there thus far in NASCAR’s top division, during which he netted five top-five finishes.
Busch’s winning history at Kentucky started way back at the ripe age of 18, when he dominated the 2003 ARCA race while competing for Hendrick Motorsports. He led a race-high 91 laps en route to the victory.
He returned to the Bluegrass State the following year and found victory lane again, this time in his Xfinity Series debut at the 1.5-mile oval. In all, Busch has three wins, eight top-fives and has led 766 laps in seven Xfinity Series starts there. He also won the 2011 and 2014 Truck Series races to give him five top-10 finishes and 310 laps led in six Truck Series starts at the speedway. He’ll again attempt to race and win both the Cup and Xfinity Series races there this weekend.
Along for the ride, this weekend in the Bluegrass State is the SNICKERS® brand with its three new bold, limited-edition intense flavors – Espresso, Fiery, and Salty & Sweet. The new flavors, available in stores nationwide, joins the popular “Hunger Bars” and feature the usual SNICKERS® ingredients – peanuts and caramel covered in milk chocolate, but with espresso, chili pepper or salt-infused flavor twist.
While Busch has notched five Cup Series wins thus far this season, as has fellow championship contender Kevin Harvick, race fans know Busch is only satisfied if he brings back home yet another trophy.
So as the Cup Series makes a swing through the Bluegrass State Saturday night, fans of Busch are hoping he can satisfy the hunger and bring home not only his third career Kentucky victory but his sixth win this season.