HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. – In the fourth year of Darlington Raceway’s NASCAR Throwback weekend, Kyle Busch will finally get to roll into the historic facility with a Mars Inc. throwback paint scheme.
Busch’s No. 18 Skittles Toyota will honor former Mars-sponsored driver Ernie Irvan with a replica of Irvan’s 1998 Skittles paint scheme.
The 2015 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion scored his lone Bojangles’ Southern 500 victory in 2008, leading a race-high 169 of 367 laps, and is looking to add a second crown jewel win at the historic, egg-shaped 1.366-mile oval to his resume.
“It’s really exciting to get to Darlington and to be able to do a throwback scheme with Mars and Skittles this year,” noted Busch. “I’m really looking forward to it and really glad to have Ernie come in and do some things with us here in preparation for that. It’s going to be fun and I can’t wait to get to the race track in September.
Irvan placed sixth in the ’98 Southern 500 driving the No. 36 Pontiac for owner Nelson Bowers, two laps down to race winner Jeff Gordon as Gordon earned his fourth-straight Labor Day weekend win at Darlington.
However, Irvan was a back-to-back runner-up in the Southern 500 in both 1990 and 1991.
While Irvan’s ’98 run in the Southern 500 didn’t end in victory as he might have hoped, the Modesto, Calif., native did earn 11 top-10 finishes and three poles that season, including the pole for the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Irvan’s best finish in 1998 was sixth, which he accomplished five times, including in the Daytona 500, Brickyard 400 and Southern 500.
The throwback announcement came complete with a humorous video on social media Wednesday, which featured Busch snacking on Skittles in the Joe Gibbs Racing shop. Every time Busch would eat one of the colorful candies, something in the shop turned retro.
In response, one of the shop workers then grabbed some Skittles and turned the tables on Busch, watching as Busch transformed into Irvan to complete the throwback theme.
This will mark the second time in four years that Busch’s No. 18 Toyota will carry a throwback paint scheme for the Southern 500. He previously did so in 2016, carrying the 1993 Interstate Batteries colors that Dale Jarrett drove to victory in the Daytona 500.
The Bojangles’ Southern 500 will take place Sunday, Sept. 2 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway.