This weekend at the Atlanta Motor Speedway is a big one for Kyle Busch. First off, Busch will make his 2019 NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series season debut on Saturday afternoon on the 1.54-mile Georgia track. It will mark the first of five starts for him in 2019. Busch, will drive the No. 51 Toyota for his own team in Saturday’s Ultimate Tailgating 200 (4:30 p.m. ET/FS1/MRN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
Busch, all but had this race won last year before a few late cautions which derailed his hopes. The Las Vegas native will make his 146th career Truck Series start and is tied for first in NGOTS wins (51 Ron Hornaday), second in laps led (6,406) and fourth in poles (21). Busch has a total of 93 top-five and 114 top-10 finishes with an average start of 7.3 and an average finish of 7.0.
He has also won four times in 10 NGOTS starts at Atlanta Motor Speedway and has collected seven top-five and eight top-10 finishes as well. He has an average start of 3.0 and an average finish of 6.6.
“I’m looking forward to getting behind the wheel of the Cessna Tundra for the first time in 2019,” said Busch. “We had a really fast truck in last year’s race, but an untimely caution and miscue on the last pit stop kept us from getting to victory lane.”
Saturday’s going to be a bit of a reunion race for Busch as he will have Rudy Fugle as his crew chief. Fugle was Busch’s crew chief in 2013 and has guided his team to four Owner’s Championships (2013, 2015, 2016 and 2017) as a crew chief at KBM, including combined Owner’s/Driver’s Championships with Erik Jones in 2015 and Christopher Bell in 2017. The New York native’s drivers have combined for 22 wins, 20 poles, 57 top-five and 71 top-10 finishes across his 114 races calling the shots for the organization. Working with Fugle in 2013, Busch collected five wins, eight top-five and nine top-10 finishes across 11 Truck Series starts.
On top of making his first Truck start of the season, Busch will also make his 500th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start too. It’s a big feat for him. He will become the 41st driver in the history of the series to make 500 starts.
Busch’s first Cup start came in 2004 at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, his home track. He finished 41st that day in a car prepared by Hendrick Motorsports. That led to nine attempts that year, with making the race in six of them. In 2005, he was a full time Cup driver and even won in his rookie season at that. It only took 25 races that season to reach victory lane.
Since, he’s won 50 other times and is looking to win both races this weekend including in his milestone start.
Busch, has 194 (51 MENCS, 92 NXS, 51 NGOTS) all-time combined NASCAR national series wins which ranks second all-time (Richard Petty 200).
He’s got a good shot on Saturday afternoon at KBM has been so dominant in Atlanta lately. Their drivers have combined to lead 88.6-percent (234 of 264) of the laps in the last two Truck Series events at Atlanta. Overall, KBM drivers have collected one win, two poles (Christopher Bell 2017, Kyle Busch 2018), six top-five and seven top-10 finishes at Atlanta Motor Speedway. They have earned a collective average start of 5.6 and average finish of 13.8 and have led 418 laps.
Even further, Busch has won 35.17-percent (51 of 145) of the NGOTS races he has entered and finished first or second in 53.1-percent (77 of 145).
In the Cup Series, Busch has two top seven finishes in his last three Atlanta starts. He’s a former winner on the track and will certainly have a chance on Sunday. He brought his No. 18 Toyota home runner-up in last Sunday’s Daytona 500.