It Is Trick Or Treat Time 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 candymaker will yet again go racing with a special Halloween scheme Sunday afternoon at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway to celebrate M&M’S Halloween fun packs leading into the big day next week.

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

At the pinnacle of the recent success at Martinsville for Busch and the M&M’s team is the 2015 NASCAR Cup Series champion’s first career win at the paperclip-shaped oval in April 2016. 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 2017 playoffs at Martinsville this weekend, Busch knows a repeat performance from April of last year could go a long way in his efforts to bring home his second Cup Series championship for the M&M’S team. If Busch were to win Sunday’s First Data 500 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 finaleNov. 19 at Homestead-Miami Speedway that will decide this year’s Cup Series 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 Kansas Speedway in Kansas City. Now that he’s made it to the final eight, Busch feels he has just as good a shot as anyone to win his second Cup Series 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 hope to take advantage of the confidence built during the last several years at Martinsville. Since he already conquered the .526-mile short track in Southern Virginia just last year, Busch hopes there will be an M&M’S treat, the traditional Grandfather clock, and punched ticket to the championship race in Homestead waiting for him at the end of Sunday’s 500-lap race.

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 and came home second there in the spring. We tested there a few weeks ago and Adam (Stevens, crew chief) and the guys had a really fast racecar there, and we feel really good about what we have for this weekend. Hoping that we can finish one spot better there than the spring 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. Texas is a bit of a wild card with the repave, but there’s no reason why we can’t run well there. 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 Kansas 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 36 – First Data 500 – Martinsville

Car No.: 18 – M&M’S Halloween 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: Kenneth Purcell

Hometown: Savannah, Georgia

 

Front Tire Changer: Clay Robinson

Hometown: Simi Valley, California

 

Jackman: Trey Burklin

Hometown: Charlotte, North Carolina

 

Front Tire Carrier: Kevin Harris

Hometown: Winter Springs, Florida

 

Rear Tire Carrier: Matt Ver Meer

Hometown: Montezuma, Iowa

 

Rear Tire Changer: Adam Hartmann

Hometown: Oxford, North Carolina

 

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 First Data 500 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway will mark Kyle Busch’s 459th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start and his 25th NASCAR Cup Series start at Martinsville.
  • Busch has career totals of 42 wins, 27 poles, 159 top-five finishes, 238 top-10s and 14,147 laps led in 458 career Cup Series racesHis most recent Cup Series win came four weekends ago at Dover (Del.) International Speedway. Busch’s most recent pole, the 27th of his career, came last month at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon. He has eight poles this season, a career high.
  • Busch has one win, 12 top-five finishes and 13 top-10s and has led a total of 1,116 laps in 24 career Cup Series starts at Martinsville. Busch’s average Martinsville finish is 13.6.
  • Kansas Milestones: Busch added a few interesting stats last weekend during his 10th-place finish at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City. With his 112 laps led on Sunday, Busch has now led more than 4,000 laps in his career at 1.5-mile ovals. Also, by leading at Kansas, Busch extended his streak of races in which he’s led laps to 15 in a row. Bobby Allison holds the record for consecutive races with laps led with 39 in a row during the 1971 and 1972 seasons.
  • 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 –in August at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. 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.
  • Starting Up Front: Busch captured another pole last month at New Hampshire, which was the eighth of 2017 for the Las Vegas native. Eight poles is the most Busch has captured during any season of his career with 29.6 percent of his career poles coming this season alone. In fact, prior to 2017, the most poles Busch had captured in a season was three, which he did on two different occasions –2013 and 2014.
  • 42 Career Cup Series Wins: With his Cup Series win at Dover, the 42nd points-paying win of his career, Busch now sits alone in 17th on the all-time Cup Series win list.With his 40th Cup victory coming at Bristol in August, Busch became 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 and Kansas added to the list last season, and Pocono (Pa.) Raceway 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 38 wins for JGR to Stewart’s 33 following his most recent win at Dover.
  • 182 and Counting: Busch enters Martinsville with 182 career wins among NASCAR’s top three divisions – Cup (42), Xfinity (91) and Truck (49) following his Cup Series win four races ago at Dover.

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

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