Kyle Busch Hopes That It’s 18 In ’18!

Kyle Busch

As the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season is set to begin with Speedweeks activities this weekend at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, there seems to be more than one correlation with Kyle Busch’s car No. 18 in 2018.

Looking at the 2018 racing calendar, there appear to be a few dates that feel like more than just a coincidence. For starters, the season-opening Daytona 500 will be held Feb. 18. The Cup Series annual night race at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, a track where Busch has won six times and swept all three NASCAR national series races for the second time in his career last August, will be held Aug. 18. And finally, the championship finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway will be held on, you guessed it, Nov. 18.

Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’S Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), turns his attention to a race every stock car driver dreams of winning – the 60th annual Daytona 500. After 12 career starts in the “Great American Race,” Busch is still searching for his first victory in NASCAR’s season-opening event and he looks to add one of his biggest accomplishments to his already impressive resume.

Before next week’s edition of the Great American Race, the 2018 season will warm up with Sunday’s Clash at Daytona, an exhibition race Busch won in 2012. It continues through next week’s Can-Am Duel qualifying races. Busch won his Duel qualifying race in 2009, 2013 and 2016. Then, the official NASCAR Cup Series season begins in earnest Feb. 18 with the Daytona 500. In addition to his three non-points-race wins at Daytona, Busch captured his first and only Daytona points-paying Cup Series win in July 2008.

Busch will look to top his strong 2017 season when he finished in the runner-up spot in the Cup Series standings, qualified for his 10th career appearance in NASCAR’s playoffs, and made the Championship 4 for the third consecutive season. Busch won five races in 2017, plus his first ever NASCAR All-Star victory, which gave him at least one win in each of his first 13 seasons.

The winner of 43 career races in NASCAR’s Cup Series will look to continue to win races and vie for another championship, with a few other goals still left to accomplish. Along with a Daytona 500 victory and a return to the Championship 4, Busch’s goals for 2018 include crossing off the final track where he’s never won a points-paying race in the Cup Series – Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway.

Also for 2018, primary backer M&M’S returns for its 11th season with Busch and the colorful M&M’S Toyota. M&M’S will have its fan pit stop experience on site during Speedweeks at Daytona at the base of the Toyota Injector. Starting Friday, fans will be able to watch hourly demonstrations of the new five-man pit stop that will be used for the first time ever starting with the Daytona Speedweeks races. Activities there will include the M&M’S Tire Changer, prize wheel, sampling of M&M’S product, and an appearance by Busch himself.

Starting at Daytona, Busch will be back in the familiar yellow M&M’S scheme that has brought Busch to victory lane many times over the years. Fans can support Busch’s No. 18 with #18N18 on social media throughout the entire 2018 season.

 

So, as Busch and his No. 18 M&M’S Camry head back to Daytona for another edition of Daytona Speedweeks, his sights will be set on crossing another item off the bucket list by adding his name as the 39th driver to grace the Harley J. Earl Trophy as Daytona 500 champion. If there’s any year of destiny for Busch’s No. 18, 2018 should be the one when it all comes together from start to finish.

KYLE BUSCH, Driver of the No. 18 M&M’S Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing: 
Are there race wins or other things that you hope to accomplish before your racing career is over?
“The number-one, most important thing is trying to win the Daytona 500. After that, we will try to win the Coke 600 at Charlotte, or really any Cup points race at Charlotte, which I haven’t been able to do, yet. Winning at Martinsville and getting a Grandfather Clock and winning at Kansas, where I haven’t been very good in my career, were both really special in recent years. Beyond that, I would certainly still like to win 200 overall NASCAR races. Those are some of the bucket-list things that would be cool to accomplish someday. We still have plenty to accomplish, but I’m excited to head back to Daytona and get a new year started. Hard to believe it’s my 11th season with M&M’S on board with me wearing yellow at Daytona.”Why is the Daytona 500 so difficult to win? 

“Because everybody else wants to win it and it’s on all their bucket lists and, of course, it’s a race that 40 people have a chance to go out there and win. I wouldn’t say the same for a race like Atlanta. You go to Atlanta and obviously that’s a race where probably 10, 12 guys are going to have a chance to win but, when you show up to Daytona, all 40 people will believe that they have a chance to win.”

 

How would you explain the feeling of starting the Daytona 500?

 

“It’s crazy because I felt that as a rookie, maybe my second year, but I don’t necessarily feel it that much now. I feel it’s like another race, but it is the first race of the year and you want to start it off well. Are you always really ready for the start of the season? Who knows? If the Daytona 500 was the fifth or sixth race of the year, would it be better for me or better for somebody else? Maybe, or maybe not. The only way I can explain it to people is if you ever get excited or the adrenaline starts pumping and you don’t necessarily have any feelings and it’s just excitement. It could be for people experiencing the birth of a kid or something like that, or seeing their kid go through graduation or something like that. That’s sort of the feeling of getting ready to start the Daytona 500. To me, I get nervous or pumped up or excited for the start of the Super Bowl just watching it. I’m excited and I’m jacked up for it, so I can only imagine what the players feel, and that’s sort of the feeling you get.”

 

How important is the Clash exhibition race to learn the draft and get ready for the rest of Speedweeks?

 

“I think anytime we ever go down to Daytona, whether it’s with a new car or whether it’s with a different rules package or what have you, we always look at the Clash as a race to watch to see exactly what’s going to happen and what characteristics you have in your racecar and things. It’s a learning experience for everybody, whether you’re in the race or whether you’re out of the race and not in it. For us, we’re curious to see how the car is going to race and how it’s going to handle and what it’s going to react like. I’m just looking forward to getting back to Daytona to my day job with our M&M’S Camry.”

 

How significant do you think the new ride height might be at Daytona?

 

“I think it’s going to be better for the safety aspect. I think obviously with all of us trying to get our cars as down and as low as possible that it’s going to be really good for us for lift-off speeds and things like that. When the car gets turned around, it’s not going to want to lift as fast. We kind of saw that a couple years ago, I think Matt (Kenseth) actually went upside down at Talladega – well, a few guys went upside down, but Matt most notably when the car turned sideways and it automatically lifted and then it just kind of went over. Now, when the car gets sideways and turned, it’s not going to lift because it doesn’t want to rebound. It doesn’t want to be pushed back up because of the soft springs and the ride-height rule. It’s going to want to stay lower, flatter, so it’s not going to allow the air to get underneath it. As far as the drivability aspect of it, I think that’s going to be pretty similar. I don’t think there’s going to be much of that. Maybe – hopefully – it’ll make the cars drive worse so then there is some handling that comes into play. I would enjoy that. I would like that because I think any time you have an opportunity to out-setup someone or out-handle someone at a racetrack, that’s what creates racing. That’s what makes passing.”

How have you adjusted to the transition now that you’re that veteran status?

Yeah, obviously it’s a unique opportunity for me being one of the elder statesmen, if you will, of the sport, let alone Joe Gibbs Racing, and being able to kind of lead our younger guys, if you will, Erik and Daniel. Those guys have come through Kyle Busch Motorsports, so it’s been fun to watch them progress through the years with the Truck Series, the Xfinity Series, and now being into the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. I’m looking forward to working with them and continuing to see their progress, but also hopefully being able to continue to be one of the leadership guys at our team and being able to race on for championships for years to come.”

M&M’S Racing

Race 1 of 36 – 60th Daytona 500– Daytona

Car No.: 18 – M&M’S 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 60th Daytona 500 will mark Kyle Busch’s 463rd career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start and his 26th points-paying NASCAR Cup Series start at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway.
  • Busch has career totals of 43 wins, 27 poles, 161 top-five finishes, 241 top-10s and 14,381 laps led in 462 career Cup Series racesHis most recent Cup Series win came in October at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. Busch’s most recent pole, the 27th of his career, came in September at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon. He had eight poles last season, a career high.
  • Busch has one win, seven top-five finishes and eight top-10s and has led a total of 382 laps in 25 career Cup Series points-paying starts at Daytona. Busch’s average Daytona finish is 18.4.
  • Warmup Act: Sunday afternoon’s Clash at Daytona will mark Busch’s 12th appearance in the non-points event. He brought home his only Clash victory in 2012. In that race six years ago, Busch passed three-time Cup Series champion Tony Stewart coming to the finish line on the final lap. Busch won by .013 of a second, the closest finish in Clash history.
  • Dueling at Daytona: Busch will make his 13th start in his Can-Am Duel twin qualifying race Feb. 15. In his previous 12 starts, Busch has led 164 laps and has three career wins in the qualifying race – in 2009, 2013, and 2016.
  • Almost: Busch almost drove to his first Daytona Cup Series victory in July 2007, finishing second to race-winner Jamie McMurray by a mere 0.005 of a second in a drag race to the finish line.
  • No More ‘Almost:’ Busch finally notched his first and only Cup Series points-paying win at Daytona in the July 2008 Coke Zero 400. Busch was just ahead of Carl Edwards when the caution came out for a multicar accident in turn one on lap 162 during a green-white-checkered finish. Busch was declared the winner by NASCAR officials when it was determined his car was in the lead when the caution came out to end the race.
  • 43 Career Cup Series Wins: With his Cup Series win at Martinsville last October, the 43rd points-paying win of his career, Busch now sits alone in 17th on the all-time Cup Series win list, and one win behind NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott for 16th all-time. With his 40th Cup Series victory at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway 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 Speedway in Kansas City added to the list in 2016, and Pocono (Pa.) Raceway crossed off the list in July 2017, 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 was the winner of the All-Star non-points race at Charlotte last 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. Of the 22 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 39 wins for JGR to Stewart’s 33 following his most recent Martinsville win last fall.
  • 183 and Counting: Busch enters the 2018 season with 183 career wins among NASCAR’s top three divisions – Cup (43), Xfinity (91) and Truck (49) following his Cup Series win at Martinsville last fall.

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

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