KyBu Is Looking For The Luck Of The Irish In The Irish Hills

Kyle Busch

During the 19th century, the Irish Hills area of Michigan – located near U.S. 12 just about halfway between Detroit and Chicago – was a well-known stopping point during the five-day stagecoach trip between the two large Midwest cities.

At the turn of the century, the Irish Hills turned into an enjoyable tourist destination with its plush, green landscape and more than 30 lakes for vacationers and residents to enjoy in peace and quiet.

For the last several decades, the Irish Hills become anything but peaceful and quiet two weekends per year when the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series visits Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn.

During this weekend’s semiannual stopover at the track located approximately 80 miles southwest of Detroit, Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’S Red, White and Blue Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), looks to keep his hot start to the season going while also breaking out of some tough luck at Michigan in recent years during Sunday’s FireKeepers Casino 400.

Busch won at Michigan in August 2011 for his first Cup Series triumph there. However, the track was repaved prior to the 2012 season and, while he scored a solid fourth-place finish on the new surface in June 2013, he has just two top-10 finishes since the repave, both coming last year, which is not up to Busch’s high standards. This weekend, Busch looks to overcome that recent string of bad luck at Michigan and turn his fortunes around on the blazing-fast oval.

While Busch has had some tough luck at Michigan in recent years, he’s had no such thing during the 14 races contested in NASCAR’s top series thus far in 2018. He has four victories thus far among his impressive nine top-five finishes, and 11-top-10s, and he’s led 888 laps just past the halfway point in the Cup Series regular season.

Busch will bring the M&M’S Red, White and Blue paint scheme back for a third weekend in a row after running the colors at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway on Memorial Day weekend and at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway last weekend. The patriotic scheme celebrates M&M’S Red, White and Blue Mix, which is available at retailers nationwide and is the perfect treat to celebrate summer.

So, as Busch and the M&M’s Red, White and Blue team head to the Upper Midwest this weekend, they hope to turn their luck around with the ultimate goal of a second career Cup Series victory for Busch in the Irish Hills of Michigan.

KYLE BUSCH, Driver of the No. 18 M&M’S Red, White, and Blue Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing: 
Does taking the same approach you have to Kansas and other repaved tracks also benefit you at a place like Michigan?

 

“Our M&M’S guys have come a long way at Kansas, that’s for sure. To get a win there a few years ago was a really big deal for our team. I give my guys a lot of credit for working hard to find something I was more comfortable with there. Our whole team has shown how well we’ve worked together, and that he (crew chief Adam Stevens) has been a really quick study, so I’m looking forward to seeing what he has in store for me at Michigan this weekend. I’m hoping Michigan will be at least a little bit more worn in than when we were there last fall. I’m looking forward to getting out there in practice and seeing what we can learn with our M&M’S Red, White and Blue Camry.”

 

What is it about Adam Stevens that you’re able to work so well with him and how you’ve developed such good chemistry?

 

“When Adam and I were slated to work together on the Xfinity side, I was really excited to work with him. I knew that him and (Joey) Logano kind of had this bit of chemistry that really worked well for them, and I wasn’t sure that I would fit into the mold. He’s got a definite fire and drive to him, as well, and a passion like mine. It’s just the amount of dedication and the amount of drive that he and I both share, I think, is what makes us so strong. A lot of different guys have a lot of different ways to go about their business. I think Rodney Childers (Kevin Harvick’s crew chief) is very unique in the way he goes about his business. It’s very chill and yet they get the job done very well. Adam and myself, we tend to look pretty good sometimes at being able to do our job well, and I’ll be mad one day and he’ll be talking to me about why I’m mad, and then he’ll be mad another day and I’ll be asking him about why he’s mad. We kind of fit within each other a little bit and definitely feed off each other and push each other to continue to be stronger and be better.”

 

Most drivers seem to enjoy racing at Michigan International Speedway. Why is that?

 

“Regardless of new pavement or not, it’s wide-open racing, and you can run from top to bottom more and more every race there as the groove widens out. The biggest thing used to be to find grip there. But, with the new surface, there is a ton of grip, now. Before you had grip for maybe five laps and then you’d just be out to lunch. But now, the tire wear is all out the window and the racetrack is very fast. And the wide racetrack is good. That’s what makes Michigan so exciting and so fun. That’s the biggest deal about it.”

 

Do you expect the track surface to be worn in a little bit more this year?

 

“I expect it to be fast, still. There’s still a lot of grip, but I’m hoping it’s starting to get worn in like Kansas did. I would still expect it to be very fast this weekend still like it has been. But if you’re just a little bit loose there, now you’re nervous that just any little bit of getting outside the groove or having a little bit too much yaw will lead to a wreck. It was really intense last year in our tests and in the races there. You are hauling there now, for sure, and we know that corner speeds are up overall this year at other places.”

 

With Father’s Day coming up next weekend, how instrumental was your father in your racing career, and who else helped you along the way to get you to where you are today?

 

“Obviously, my father – he’s probably number one. He and my mom just taking all of their resources and money and everything to help Kurt (Busch, brother) and I get farther along in our careers in Las Vegas through Dwarf cars, Legends cars, Modifieds, whatever it was. Modifieds was about as far as we could go as a family – that was all we could afford. Then, past that was Jerry Spilsbury – he used to own an air conditioning company back in Las Vegas and he had a Late Model team out at the speedway the year before I ran. It was a one-car team and then, the year I ran, we actually became a three-car team. So it was Jerry himself, and then another guy named Billy Newman, and then myself who raced those cars that year. I think I finished third in the championship. I missed the first two races of the year because I wasn’t 16, yet. My birthday wasn’t until May. And then I had to miss another race when I ran out of gas in Chicago in the Camping World Truck Series race that day and we tried to fly back, but we couldn’t get out because of the weather in Chicago, so we couldn’t make that race that night. So I missed three and still finished third in points. I think Billy was second. We had a good year that year, but Jerry spent a lot of money, employed my father and just allowed me to succeed in winning 10 of 15 Late Model races that year – we finished second in three, third once and broke a rear-end gear in the other one while leading. We were plenty fast and, through racing that car that year, I think a lot of people took notice that Kurt Busch’s little brother back in Vegas was pretty good, and that’s all history, now.”

M&M’S Red, White, and Blue Racing

Round 15 of 38 –FireKeepers Casino 400– Michigan

Car No.: 18 – M&M’S Red, White, and Blue Toyota Camry

 

Teammates:  Denny Hamlin – No. 11 Toyota Camry; Daniel Suarez – No. 19 Toyota Camry; Erik Jones – No. 20 Toyota Camry.

 

At-Track PR Contact: Bill Janitz, True Speed Communication (704-875-3388 ext. 803 or Bill.Janitz@TrueSpeedCommunication.com).

Primary Team Members:

Driver: Kyle Busch

Hometown: Las Vegas

 

Crew Chief: Adam Stevens

Hometown: Portsmouth, Ohio

 

Car Chief: Nate Bellows

Hometown: Fairfax, Vermont

 

Race Engineer: Ben Beshore

Hometown: Hometown York, Pennsylvania

 

Engine Specialist: Mike Johnson

Hometown: Bozeman, Montana

 

Spotter: Tony Hirschman

Hometown: Northampton, Pennsylvania

Over-The-Wall Crew Members:

Gas Man: Matt Tyrrell

Hometown: Fort Lauderdale, Florida

 

Front Tire Changer: Cam Waugh

Hometown: Johnstown, Colorado

 

Jackman: T.J. Ford

Hometown: Charlotte, North Carolina

 

Tire Carrier: Joe Crossen

Hometown: Salisbury, North Carolina

 

Rear Tire Changer: Jeff Cordero

Hometown: Salem, Connecticut

 

Pit Support: Brian Eastland

Hometown: New Bern, North Carolina

Road Crew Members:

Truck Drivers: Brendan Greene and Jamie Price

Hometowns: Midland, North Carolina, and Choteau, Montana, respectively

 

Tire Specialist: Jon Desrocher

Hometown: Plattsburgh, New York

 

Mechanic: Wesley Lape

Hometown: Sinking Spring, Pennsylvania

 

Race Engineer: Tyler Allen

Hometown: Seattle, Washington

 

Ride and Handling Engineer: Chris Chase

Hometown: Nichols, New York

 

Rear End Mechanic: Chris Jones

Hometown: Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia

 

Interior Mechanic: Todd Foster

Hometown: Birmingham, Alabama

Notes of Interest:
  • The FireKeepers Casino 400 will mark Kyle Busch’s 477th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start and his 27th NASCAR Cup Series start at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn.
  • Busch has career totals of 47 wins, 30 poles, 170 top-five finishes, 252 top-10s and 15,269 laps led in 476 career Cup Series racesHis most recent Cup Series win came two races ago at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway in NASCAR’s longest race, the Coca-Cola 600. Busch’s most recent pole, the 30th of his career, also came that weekend at Charlotte.
  • Busch has one win, four top-five finishes, and eight top-10s and has led a total of 233 laps in 26 career Cup Series starts at Michigan. Busch’s average Michigan finish is 19.5.
  • 15,000 Plus: With his impressive 377 of 400 laps led in last month’s Coca-Cola 600, Busch topped the 15,000-laps-led mark in NASCAR’s top series and became just the 10th driver in NASCAR history to do so.
  • 47 Career Cup Series Wins: With his Cup Series win at Charlotte, the 47th points-paying win of his career, Busch is now alone in 15th on the all-time wins list as he topped NASCAR Hall of Famer Buck Baker’s 46 wins and sits one behind another Hall of Famer, Herb Thomas. With his 40th Cup Series victory at Bristol last August, Busch became the fourth-youngest driver to reach 40 Cup Series wins at 32 years, 109 days, behind only Richard Petty, Jeff Gordon, and Thomas.
  • All 23: With his win at Charlotte, Busch has now won a Cup Series race at all 23 tracks at which the series competes, becoming the first driver in the modern era to win at every track where he has made at least one start. Of the 23 different tracks where Busch has won, he has multiple wins at 12 of them.
  • All-Time JGR Wins Leader: With his Brickyard 400 win in July 2016, Busch passed Tony Stewart for most all-time Cup Series wins for JGR. Busch now has 43 wins for JGR to Stewart’s 33 following his most recent win at Charlotte last month.
  • 189 and Counting: Busch enters Michigan with 189 career wins among NASCAR’s top three divisions – Cup (47), Xfinity (92) and Truck (50) following his Xfinity Series win last weekend at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway.

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

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