Kyle Busch Is Hoping To Improve His Playoff Position At Richmond

Kyle Busch

With just one race remaining before the start of the 10-race, 16-driver Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs, Kyle Busch is headed to one of his best tracks looking to add to his playoff point total.

With his playoff spot firmly in hand by virtue of his second position in points and two race wins this season, Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’S Caramel Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), is hoping to improve his playoff point total in Saturday night’s Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond (Va.) Raceway.

With the introduction of stage racing in 2017, drivers have had the opportunity to add a playoff point for each stage win, along with five playoff points for each race victory. Those points are not only important for the first round of the playoffs, which begin next weekend at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois, but can also be used throughout the first three rounds of the playoffs. With his 10 stage wins and two race wins, Busch’s 20 playoff points is second only to regular-season champion Martin Truex Jr.’s 37.

The good news for Busch is that he now heads to his most consistent track looking to add to the total – the .75-mile Richmond short track in Virginia’s capital city. Along with four series wins there, Busch has amassed 15 top-five finishes and 17 top-10s in 24 career starts at Richmond. Additionally, the Las Vegas native has an average finishing position of 7.3 at Richmond, tops among active drivers. Next best is Kevin Harvick, whose average finish there is 8.2. Busch has completed all but one of the 9,623 laps available to him in his 24 Richmond starts. Of those laps completed, Busch has run in the top-15 for 8,462 laps, or 87.9 percent, which is second-most among active drivers.

Saturday night, Busch and the M&M’S Caramel team look to get back to Richmond’s victory lane, where Busch ended up after four consecutive spring race wins from 2009 to 2012, besting Richard Petty’s previous record of three Richmond spring race wins in a row from 1971 to 1973. With those impressive statistics and records to back him up, it’s little wonder that a visit to the “Capital of the Commonwealth of Virginia” is one of Busch’s favorite stops on the NASCAR tour.

So, as the series heads back to Richmond for the final race of the 2017 regular season, Busch and the M&M’S Caramel team look to bring home their fifth career win there. Whether or not they make it back to victory lane, history has shown they’ll have the driver and team everyone will be on the lookout for as they make one last playoff push before the postseason begins.

KYLE BUSCH, Driver of the No. 18 M&M’S Caramel Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing: 
What does it take to get around Richmond?

 

“Richmond is getting a little trickier, it seems like, just with the asphalt kind of getting older and the way the cars are. The consensus at Richmond is, of course, just trying to get your car to turn, but also having really good forward bite. You have to be able to get off the corners at Richmond. You have to have good brakes, as well, and be able to turn the center. All of it correlates. Everything you want as a racecar driver, you’ve got to have most all of it and, if you don’t, then you better hope you have more forward bite than the rest of them. That’s sort of the equation of Richmond. It’s a fun place to race. It’s really cool. As a driver, you wish it could widen out and give you more options of being able to run around in different grooves, but it hasn’t shown us that the last couple of years. We’re hoping to get our M&M’S Caramel Camry back to form there. We were very good there in the spring but let one get away with the commitment line deal, but we’d like to get another victory there, for sure.”

What is it about Richmond that suits your driving style?

“I love Richmond. It’s one of my favorite racetracks and one of my best racetracks. I love being able to go there and, of course, we put on some pretty good races there. We won four spring races in a row and I would have loved to have made it five or more. It’s a neat racetrack and it’s certainly an excitement track and there is a lot of action that happens there.”

Why is Joe Gibbs Racing so strong at Richmond?

“I think a lot of it comes from Denny (Hamlin), being that it’s his home track. I’ve been good there in Hendrick and JGR cars. But Denny and I really feed off each other an awful lot at Richmond. We use each other a ton there, just to be sure we can beat the rest of the competition, of course. We do like similar setups there, unlike some other places we run. Richmond is one of those places where we both know what it takes to get around and we’re both similar to one another in that we both run well. Matt (Kenseth) has only added to our information there as well.”

Can you compare Bristol and Richmond, both places that you’ve been successful at?

“There’s really no comparison between racetracks, honestly, because Charlotte, Texas, Atlanta – they all look the same from overhead, but they all drive not even close to the same. Richmond and Bristol are more than oil and water, more than day and night. Bristol is an attack-type racetrack yet, when you attack, you can get yourself in trouble. Richmond is a very methodical racetrack and you have to be – you’re very much on edge there all the time, especially corner entry, getting into the corners. You’re always loose there and you have to be able to be loose there in order to carry the speed through the middle and have good drive off. With the day race versus night at Richmond in the fall, I think it’s kind of the same play as any race. Sometimes nighttime just feeds itself with not as much grip and makes it to where the bottom is the preferred lane and daytime allows the racetrack to widen out and be hotter where, on a cooler racetrack, you’re looking for where the rubber is for at least a little while until the whole track rubbers in, and then you have to go back to the bottom, anyway. It’s just a matter of trying to put on the best show for the fans. They’re the ones who pay their hard-earned money to watch us race and we want to make sure we do our best. I think that’s a lot of the consideration to how many day races there are compared to night races, but still I think you need to have your fair share of night races, for sure.”

Do you enjoy the atmosphere at Richmond?

“I think the coolest thing about Richmond is the atmosphere they have there with all the fans really getting into it. People love coming there and supporting that racetrack. It’s been around for a long time. It’s a fast racetrack. It’s only a three-quarter-mile oval but it has really high speeds that makes it fun for us drivers and makes excitement that’s fun for a fan. Martinsville is a short track and it’s slow, but Richmond is pretty quick.”

M&M’S Caramel Racing

Race 26 of 36 – Federated Auto Parts 400 – Richmond

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

 

Teammates:  Denny Hamlin – No. 11 Toyota Camry; Daniel Suarez – No. 19 Toyota Camry; Matt Kenseth – 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: 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: Jon Desrocher

Hometown: Plattsburgh, New York

 

Interior 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

 

Mechanic: Todd Foster

Hometown: Birmingham, Alabama

 

Front End Mechanic: Brandon Griffeth

Hometown: Pittsfield, Illinois

Notes of Interest:

  • The Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond (Va.) Raceway will mark Kyle Busch’s 452nd career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start and his 25th NASCAR Cup Series start at Richmond.
  • Busch has career totals of 40 wins, 25 poles, 157 top-five finishes, 234 top-10s and 13,669 laps led in 451 career Cup Series racesHis most recent Cup Series win came last month at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. Busch’s most recent pole, the 25th of his career, came four races ago at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International. He now has six poles this season, a career high.
  • Busch has four wins, 15 top-five finishes and 17 top-10s and has led a total of 1,021 laps in 24 career Cup Series starts at Richmond. Busch’s average Richmond finish is 7.3 – his best on the circuit and the top average finish at Richmond in NASCAR’s top series.
  • Clean Sweep Times Two: For the second time in his career, Busch swept a weekend in all three of NASCAR’s National Series – Cup, Xfinity, and Camping World Truck –last month at Bristol. The first time Busch completed the feat also happened to be at Bristol back in 2010, and the 2015 Cup Series champion is the only driver to do so –now twice – in NASCAR history.
  • 100th: Busch brought home Toyota’s maiden Cup series victory in March of 2008. Fast forward nine years later and Busch’s win at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway in July of this year was the 100th for the Toyota Camry brand in NASCAR’s top series. Busch now has brought home 36 of Toyota’s 102 victories. The Pocono win in July was also Toyota’s 400th victory among NASCAR’s top three series. Toyota now has 405 wins in NASCAR’s top three series and Busch has 158 of those.
  • Starting Up Front: Busch captured his third consecutive pole last month at Watkins Glen, which was the sixth of 2017 for the Las Vegas native. Six poles is the most Busch has captured during any season of his career. In fact, prior to 2017, the most poles Busch had captured in a season was three, which he did on two different occasions during the 2013 and 2014 seasons.
  • 40 Career Cup Series Wins: With his Cup Series win at Bristol, the 40th points-paying win of his career, Busch now sits tied for 17th on the all-time Cup Series win list with NASCAR Hall of Famer Mark Martin. Busch is the fourth-youngest driver to reach 40 Cup wins at 32 years, 109 days, behind only Richard Petty, Jeff Gordon, and Herb Thomas.
  • Trimming the List: With wins at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway and Kansas Speedway in Kansas City added to the list last season, and now Pocono crossed off the list in July, Busch has won Cup Series points races at 22 of the 23 tracks at which the series competes. The only track remaining to conquer in the Cup Series is Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway. Busch, of course, was the winner of the All-Star non-points race at Charlotte back in May but is still chasing a points-paying Cup Series victory there. During his 2015 Cup Series championship season, Busch checked off Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Homestead-Miami Speedway. Of the 22 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 2016, Busch passed three-time Cup Series champion Tony Stewart for most all-time Cup Series wins for JGR. Busch now has 36 wins for JGR to Stewart’s 33 following his most recent win at Bristol.
  • 180 and Counting: Busch enters Richmond with 180 career wins among NASCAR’s top three divisions – Cup (40), Xfinity (91) and Truck (49) following his weekend sweep of the Camping World Truck, Xfinity, and Monster Energy Cup Series races at Bristol last month.

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

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