HUNTERSVILLE, North Carolina (Aug. 15, 2017) – In baseball, triple plays are rare. In fact, there have been 713 triple plays in the history of Major League Baseball, dating back to the first triple play in 1876. On average, there are 3.5 triple plays turned during the more than 2,400 games played each year, with the most recent coming this past Aug. 3, when the Baltimore Orioles turned one against the Detroit Tigers.
With that in mind, NASCAR’s version of a triple play is much more rare than baseball’s version. Of course, NASCAR’s version of the “Triple” is a driver winning all three races of NASCAR’s top national series – Monster Energy Cup, Xfinity, and Camping World Truck – at the same track on the same weekend.
Only one driver has been able to pull off that feat – Kyle Busch. Back in 2010, Busch brought home all three trophies during a magical August weekend at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. Before and since then, the Las Vegas native had come close by winning two of the three races several times. But he only accomplished the coveted triple that one week in August 2010.
So as the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to Bristol for Saturday night’s Bass Pro Shop Night Race, the 2015 Cup Series champion will again attempt to pull off something only he has ever accomplished – a weekend triple. Busch is entered in Wednesday night’s Camping World Truck Series race in the No. 46 Banfield Pet Hospital Toyota Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM). He’ll continue Friday night in the No. 18 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, and then finish off the weekend in NASCAR’s top series Saturday night.
The driver of the No. 18 M&M’S Caramel Toyota Camry for JGR in the Cup Series has a stellar record at the .533-mile high-banked bullring with five Cup Series wins. In fact, there will only be one other driver in the field Saturday night who has the same number of Bristol wins – his brother Kurt Busch. He would like nothing more than to sit alone atop the list of active drivers with six career Bristol wins.
In addition to his five wins, Busch has notched eight top-fives and 13 top-10s in 24 career starts at Northeast Tennessee’s “Thunder Valley.” Amazingly enough, three of Busch’s wins there came over a four-race span at the .533-mile short track in 2009 and 2010.
While he is a factor any time he travels to Bristol, it’s interesting to note Busch didn’t immediately take to the place. During his rookie year in 2005, he posted finishes of 28th and 33rd, but his record since then has been impressive, to say the least. After bringing home finishes of eighth and second in 2006, Busch captured his first Bristol Cup Series win in March 2007. The track was resurfaced after that race and, from 2008 to 2011, nobody has been better at the concrete oval than Busch. He scored four wins and six top-10s from 2008 until another change to the track surface prior to the August 2012 race weekend. Busch is looking to recapture the magic from his four years of dominance there on the current surface.
So as Busch and the M&M’S Caramel team head to Northeast Tennessee this weekend, they’ll be focused yet again on another possible “Triple Play” in hopes of taking yet another checkered flag at a Bristol track that has treated him quite well over the years.
- Tom Jensen
NASCAR Editor at FOXSports.com & RACER Magazine