Martinsville: Not So Spooky Anymore For Kyle Busch

Kyle Busch

Halloween is here and, as has been typical for Kyle Busch the No. 18 M&M’S Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), the colorful candy maker will go racing with a special Halloween scheme Sunday afternoon at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway to celebrate Halloween the following day.

 

The spooky-looking M&M’S scheme will race Sunday at a place that used to challenge Busch earlier in his career and early on in his now almost nine-year tenure with JGR. In fact, Busch finished outside the top-10 in three out of his first four races with JGR in 2008 and 2009. By contrast, Busch has scored four top-five finishes in his last seven starts there, with his worst finish being 15th.

 

At the pinnacle of recent Martinsville success for Busch and the M&M’s team is the defending Sprint Cup champion’s first career win at the paperclip-shaped oval this past in April. Not only did he bring home his first Martinsville clock, he did it in dominating fashion, leading five times for a race-high 352 laps en route to victory lane.

 

With just four races left in the season, and with the series kicking off the Round of 8 of the 2016 Chase for the Sprint Cup playoffs at Martinsville this weekend, Busch knows a repeat performance from April could go a long way in his efforts to repeating as Sprint Cup champion for the M&M’S team. If Busch were to win Sunday at Martinsville, or at any of the following two events, he would guarantee a spot as one of the four drivers advancing to the winner-take-all finale Nov. 20 at Homestead-Miami Speedway that will decide this year’s Sprint Cup champion.

 

All season long, Busch and his M&M’S Halloween team have not been ones to back down from a challenge. He was able to slip through the first two playoff rounds, most recently avoiding major trouble at Sunday’s Round of 12 elimination race at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. Now that he’s made it to the final eight, Busch feels he has just as good a shot as anyone to vie for his second Sprint Cup title.

 

So as the season heads into the homestretch, Busch and the M&M’S Halloween team know that when it comes to being championship eligible at Homestead, they’ll take the confidence built during the last several years at Martinsville. Since he has already conquered the .526-mile short track in southern Virginia once this year, Martinsville is not so spooky to Busch anymore.

 

KYLE BUSCH, Driver of the No. 18 M&M’S Halloween Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing: 
How do you feel about the race this week at Martinsville?

 

“We’ve run well the last couple of times at Martinsville and we’re definitely pumped about getting back there. I’m hoping we can have a really good car there again this time around like we did last time. We led a lot of laps and we were really fast. Hoping that some of those things we were able to push through there at Martinsville we’ll be able to do this time around with our M&M’s Halloween Camry.”

 

Are you looking forward to the next round?

 

“I look forward to the next round – we’ve got Martinsville, we’ve got Texas and we’ve got Phoenix. Those are all three really strong tracks for us. Honestly, I don’t know that there are tracks on the schedule that are weak points for us unless, obviously, there are crapshoot type races like Talladega or Daytona. We lived through Talladega last weekend, so we get to move on.”

 

What is the key to you getting a win at Martinsville?

 

“It’s a tough racetrack and, any time you come in the pits and make an adjustment on your car, you certainly hope it goes the right way, or you make enough of it, or you don’t make too much of an adjustment. The last run can be tricky, too, because you can be coming off a 50-lap run on right-side tires and take four and you’ve only got 30 (laps) to go, or you could have 80 to go and you know you have to manage that run all the way to the end.”

 

Your racecar is sporting the special M&M’s Halloween paint scheme this week. What was your favorite Halloween costume that you wore as a kid?

 

“Actually, one year I went as a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. I think that was my favorite costume as a kid. I was Michelangelo and I even had the fake nunchuk. One year, I was a football player and, one year, I even dressed up as Jeff Gordon since he was my favorite racecar driver when I was a kid.”

 

Growing up in Las Vegas, what do you remember about Halloween and trick-or-treating?

 

“It was always cold in Las Vegas during Halloween, even though it can be really hot most of the year. I guess the biggest memory was going out to everyone’s house and trick-or-treating and hanging out with friends as a group. Sometimes, people wouldn’t be home, so they had a bucket out and you would reach in and grab whatever you wanted out of the bucket. It was all about how much candy you could collect, not necessarily about how much you would eat when you got home.”

M&M’S Halloween Racing

Race 33 of 38 – Goody’s Fast Relief 500 – Martinsville

Car No.: 18 – M&M’S Halloween Toyota Camry

 

Teammates:  Denny Hamlin – No. 11 FedEx Toyota Camry; Carl Edwards – No. 19 SportClips 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 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

 

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 Goody’s Fast Relief 500 will mark Kyle Busch’s 423rd career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start and his 23rd Sprint Cup start at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.
  • Busch has career totals of 38 wins, 19 poles, 144 top-five finishes, 215 top-10s and 12,350 laps led in 422 career Sprint Cup races. His most recent Sprint Cup win came in July at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, when he brought home his second consecutive win at the historic 2.5-mile oval. Busch’s win came from the pole position, his most recent pole and the 19th of his career.
  • Busch has one win, 10 top-five s and 11 top-10s and has led a total of 839 laps in 22 career Sprint Cup starts at Martinsville. His average Martinsville finish is 14.5.
  • Kicking off Round of 8: Busch, the defending Sprint Cup champion, enters the first race of the Round of 8 among the group of drivers still eligible for the Sprint Cup title. Busch also will be competing against all of his JGR teammates, with Carl Edwards, Matt Kenseth, and Denny Hamlin still in Chase contention.
  • 38 Career Sprint Cup Wins: With his Sprint Cup win at Indianapolis, the 38th of his career, Busch is tied for 19th on the all-time Sprint Cup win list with Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) teammate Matt Kenseth.
  • Trimming the List: With wins at Martinsville and Kansas Speedway in Kansas City added to the list this season, Busch has won Sprint Cup races at 21 of the 23 tracks at which the series competes. The only two tracks he has yet to conquer in the Sprint Cup series are Pocono (Pa) Raceway and Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway. During his 2015 Sprint Cup championship season, Busch checked off Indianapolis and Homestead-Miami Speedway. Four of Busch’s last six Sprint Cup wins have been his first at each track in NASCAR’s top series (Indianapolis, Homestead, Martinsville and Kansas). Of the 21 different tracks where Busch has won, he has multiple wins at 11 of them.
  • All-Time JGR Wins Leader: With his Brickyard 400 win in July, Busch passed three-time Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart for most all-time Sprint Cup wins for JGR. Busch now has 34 wins for JGR to Stewart’s 33.
  • 169 and Counting: Busch enters Martinsville with 169 career wins among NASCAR’s top three divisions – Sprint Cup (38), Xfinity (85) and Truck (46) – after winning the NASCAR Xfinity Series race two weekends ago at Kansas.

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

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