Kyle Busch Sets His Sights On Pocono

Kyle Busch and Jeff Gordon

The list of racetracks where Kyle Busch has yet to win in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is not long.

In fact, there are only two left on that list – Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway and Pocono (Pa.) Raceway, the site of Sunday’s Axalta “We Paint Winners” 400 Sprint Cup Series race.

So as the Sprint Cup competitors head to the Pocono Mountains for the first of two races there in an eight-week span that also signals the beginning of the summer stretch of races, Busch and the No. 18 M&M’S 75th Anniversary Toyota Camry team for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) are looking to get one win closer to adding his name to the record books yet again. Busch has already crossed off two first time Sprint Cup tracks with wins this year – Martinsville (Va.) Speedway and Kansas Speedway in Kansas City – and continues to add to his already impressive resume.

Other drivers have come close to accomplishing the feat Busch has in his sights. Four-time series champion Jeff Gordon retired after the 2015 season and was one short of the feat as he fell short of winning at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta in five career starts there. Three-time champion Tony Stewart, who will retire at the end of this season, also has yet to win at Kentucky and is still chasing his first win at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway, as well.

Looking back at his most recent trip to the 2.5-mile triangle at Pocono last July, Busch was less than one lap away from crossing the track off his yet-to-win list. The Las Vegas native hit town on a three-race winning streak and led three times for 19 laps, including taking the white flag as the leader. With his fourth consecutive race win in his sights, having pushed hard in swapping the lead with Joey Logano during the day’s final run, Busch pushed his fuel tank just a bit too far as he ran out of gas coming out of turn one. While he eventually coasted across the finish line, his JGR teammate Matt Kenseth benefited from Busch’s misfortune and brought home the win.

While Pocono has been difficult for Busch to master for the first six years of his Sprint Cup career, he seemed to have turned a corner there starting in June 2011, when he started from the pole – his first at Pocono – and was beaten across the finish line only by teammate and Pocono master Denny Hamlin, who has four wins to his credit at “The Tricky Triangle.” In August 2011, Busch led 27 laps late in the race before equaling his career-best Pocono finish of second behind race-winner Brad Keselowski. While he brought home top-10 finishes in both 2013 races at Pocono, Busch and the M&M’S team are striving for even bigger things at the 2.5-mile track after running well the last two years but not getting the finishes they deserved, especially last year’s fuel-mileage heartbreak.

As the series heads back to the Pocono Mountains for Sunday’s 400-miler, summer school will be in session for Busch, crew chief Adam Stevens and the entire M&M’S team. They’ll look to cross another track off the list for Busch as he works to accomplish something nobody else has in NASCAR Sprint Cup history – win at every single active track.

KYLE BUSCH, Driver of the No. 18 M&M’S 75th Anniversary Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing: 
You’ve come close to winning at Pocono the last several years. Have you improved there over the years?

“I think I’ve been a bit inconsistent or streaky there over the years. Started off early in my career with some top-five finishes and then went through a stretch where we weren’t very good. Lately, we’ve certainly been better there and I’ve had some second-place finishes and third-place finishes, so I feel like I’ve figured it out better there lately. With the way our cars at JGR have been overall, I’m very optimistic that we could score a victory there this weekend or, if not, when we come back later in the summer with our M&M’S 75th Anniversary Camry.”

Pocono is the most unique track on the circuit with three distinct corners. What’s the most difficult part of the track for you?

“The hardest part of the track, for me, is probably turn one, and then turn two is the second-hardest, and then turn three is the third-hardest – turn three, last year, because of the patch they laid down. We couldn’t go down low and get underneath somebody and get a run on them because, when you come off the corner, you’re 8 to 10 mph slower than the guy on your outside and they’re just going to blow right by you going down the straightaway.”

With you running out of fuel during your most recent trip there, does that enter your mind as you head back to Pocono?

“I think when you run well there and have a shot to win and you run out of fuel, when you head back there you still have the same mindset that you have a shot to win there just like we had a shot to win there last summer. I would definitely like to win a race there, and last year having such a good car I certainly have figured out how to drive the track, so eventually I think we’ll get that win there when you keep bringing back good cars like Adam (Stevens, crew chief) and the M&M’S guys have.”

Did the repaving of the track at Pocono change the racing at all there?

“I thought the racing there was kind of the same, not much different. It was a little bit harder to pass because, it seems like, when you’re out front in clean air, you have so much more of an advantage than being back in traffic than what it used to be – slightly, not much. To me, it was always a hard, tricky place, but it’s actually finally started becoming a two-lane racetrack in turn three. You could run the bottom and you could run the top with what we call ‘the grip strip.’ Now, it’s all grip, so it’s all back to the bottom again and you can’t really make much time up on the outside anymore. I know they had a pretty tough winter up there, so hopefully it weathered the surface even more and it widened the groove and we can put on some good racing there.”

Since the track is unique, where is the best place to make a pass at Pocono?

“Most of your passing is going to be done probably through turn one and off of turn one and getting into turn two, and if somebody can get a good run off of turn two, get back up high and get in line to get on that patch, getting into turn three. Besides that, in turn one, we just can’t get the cars to turn down there because there’s so much load on the bump stops from going 210 mph down the front straightaway and then trying to slow it down to about a ‘buck-40’ (140 mph). Turn two is kind of bumpy and kind of rough. There are different areas where you’ve got to maneuver through the tunnel turn to get your car right. If you miss it just by a little bit, you tend to knock the wall down off the corner, so it’s tight.”

M&M’S 75th Anniversary Racing

Race 14 of 38 – Axalta “We Paint Winners” 400 – Pocono

Car No.: 18 – M&M’S 75th Anniversary Toyota Camry

Teammates:  Denny Hamlin – No. 11 FedEx Toyota Camry; Carl Edwards – No. 19 Arris Toyota Camry; Matt Kenseth – No. 20 Dollar General Toyota Camry.

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

Primary Team Members:

Driver: Kyle Busch

Hometown: Las Vegas


Crew Chief: Adam Stevens

Hometown: Portsmouth, Ohio


Car Chief: Nate Bellows

Hometown: Fairfax, Vermont


Team 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: Tom Lampe

Hometown: Beatrice, Nebraska


Front Tire Changer: Josh Leslie

Hometown: Mount Clemens, Michigan


Jackman: TJ Ford

Hometown: Charlotte, North Carolina


Front Tire Carrier: Brad Donaghy

Hometown: Orange County, Virginia


Rear Tire Carrier: Kenny Barber

Hometown: Hoosick Falls, New York


Rear Tire Changer: Jake Seminara

Hometown: Steubenville, Ohio


Pit Support: Marcus Bonicelli

Hometown: Colorado Springs, Colorado


Pit Support: Jeff Koons

Hometown: Greenfield, Indiana

Road Crew Members:

Truck Drivers: Brendan Greene and Jamie Price

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


Tire Specialist: Gregory Katzke

Hometown: Wausau, Wisconsin


Interior Mechanic: Wesley Lape

Hometown: Sinking Spring, Pennsylvania


Team Engineer: Gene Watchtel

Hometown: Clearwater, Florida


Ride and Handling Engineer: Chris Chase

Hometown: Nichols, New York


Rear End Mechanic: Chris Jones

Hometown: Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia


Mechanic: Todd Foster

Hometown: Birmingham, Alabama


Front End Mechanic: Brandon Griffeth

Hometown: Pittsfield, Illinois

Notes of Interest:
  • The Axalta “We Paint Winners” 400 will mark Kyle Busch’s 404th career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start and his 23rd Sprint Cup start at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway.
  • Busch has career totals of 37 wins, 18 poles, 139 top-fives, 203 top-10s and 16,585 laps led in 403 career Sprint Cup races. His most recent Sprint Cup win came four weekends ago at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, his first Sprint Cup win at the 1.5-mile oval. Busch notched his most recent pole position 10 races ago at Phoenix International Raceway, the 18th of his career.
  • Busch has no wins, four top-five finishes and eight top-10s and has led a total of 82 laps in 22 career Sprint Cup starts at Pocono. His average Pocono finish is 18.4.
  • Hot Hand: In the 38 Sprint Cup races Busch has started since returning from injury last May, he has won eight times and captured the 2015 Sprint Cup championship. Along with the eight wins, Busch has posted 21 top-five finishes, 25 top-10s and has led 1,414 laps. To go with his three wins thus far this season, Busch has posted top-five finishes in nine of the first 13 races. He finished the 2015 season on a streak of four consecutive top-five finishes, so he has top-five finishes in 13 of his last 17 races.
  • 37 Career Sprint Cup Wins: With his Sprint Cup win at Kansas, the 37th of his career,Busch is tied for 19th on the all-time Sprint Cup win list with NASCAR Hall of Famer Bobby Issac and Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) teammate Matt Kenseth.
  • Trimming the List: With Martinsville (Va.) Speedway and Kansas wins added to the list this season, Busch has won Sprint Cup races at 21 of the 23 tracks at which the Sprint Cup Series competes. The only two tracks he has yet to conquer in the Sprint Cup series are Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway and this weekend’s venue at Pocono. During his 2015 Sprint Cup championship season, Busch checked off Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Homestead-Miami Speedway. Four of Busch’s last five Sprint Cup wins have been his first at each track in NASCAR’s top series (Indianapolis, Homestead, Martinsville and Kansas).
  • Diverse Driver: Busch’s last 11 Sprint Cup wins have come at different racetracks.
  • 162 and Counting: Busch enters Pocono with 162 career wins among NASCAR’s top three divisions – Sprint Cup (37), Xfinity (80) and Truck (45) – after winning the Sprint Cup race at Kansas four weekends ago.


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