HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. – For Kyle Busch and M&M’s Crispy, 2015 is the year of the comeback.
In January, Busch’s primary backer M&M’s listened to the fans and launched the highly anticipated return of M&M’s Crispy. Just one month later, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series fans are also looking forward to another highly anticipated return – the 2015 Sprint Cup Series season, which kicks off with Saturday night’s Sprint Unlimited exhibition race and culminates Feb. 22 with the 57th Daytona 500 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway.
To celebrate the return of M&M’s Crispy, Busch’s colorful No. 18 M&M’s Crispy Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) will introduce a new green paint scheme celebrating the return of Busch’s favorite M&M’s candy. While 2015 is about the celebration of the return of M&M’s Crispy, there are also some exciting new elements for Busch and his teammates that have them looking forward to a return to success for the No. 18 M&M’s Crispy team.
The biggest of the new additions is the promotion of crew chief Adam Stevens from the JGR XFINITY Series shop to new crew chief for Busch’s and the M&M’s Crispy team’s championship efforts in 2015. While Busch and Stevens will work together for the first time in NASCAR’s top series in 2015, the driver-crew chief duo already knows its way to victory lane. In fact, Busch and Stevens have combined for 19 wins, 46 top-five finishes, and 47 top-10s in 52 XFINITY Series starts together over the last two seasons.
One other exciting addition to the team, approximately mid-May, is the expected arrival of Busch’s wife Samantha’s first child, a son, who is due around NASCAR’s annual stop at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway for the back-to-back Sprint All-Star Race and Coca-Cola 600 race weekends.
With every new season comes optimism, and this one is certainly no exception for Busch and his M&M’s Crispy team as the current Sprint Cup championship format has shown that it rewards what Busch is one of the best at – winning. Since 2008, only six-time and defending Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson has won more races in NASCAR’s premiere series than Busch, with Johnson tallying 37 wins during that time while Busch and former JGR driver Tony Stewart are tied with 29 apiece.
The 2015 season warms up with Saturday night’s non-points-paying Sprint Unlimited, where Busch brought home a victory in 2012. It continues through next week’s Budweiser Duels qualifying races, during which Busch won in 2009 and 2013. And the official Sprint Cup season begins in earnest Feb. 22 with the Daytona 500. In addition to his three non-points race wins at Daytona, Busch captured his first and only Daytona points-paying Sprint Cup win in July 2008.
So as Busch and his No. 18 M&M’s Crispy Camry prepare to head south from JGR’s Huntersville, North Carolina headquarters this week, Busch hopes the return of M&M’s Crispy also yields a return to Daytona victory lane, but this time as the 36th name on the Harley J. Earl Trophy as 2015 Daytona 500 champion.
KYLE BUSCH, Driver of the No. 18 M&M’s Crispy Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:
What are the things that you are most looking forward to in 2015?
“I’m looking forward to this year, for sure. To have Adam Stevens on board as my crew chief with the success we’ve had together, I think we have a lot to look forward to. For this year, we’ll switch from the familiar M&M’s yellow to green with M&M’s Crispy, which is back in stores this year. I think the car looks awesome and might look even better with some confetti on it in victory lane at Daytona.”
What is it like to get acclimated to working with Adam Stevens on the Sprint Cup level?
“He’s new to me on the Sprint Cup level but, fortunately, I’ve worked with him the last two seasons in the XFINITY Series. I think that’s why it made sense to move Adam up because we do have that experience and relationship, already, and that chemistry built up. I like Adam Stevens. I think he’s very smart and a very quick study. Sprint Cup is an entirely different thing, so it’s going to take a little bit of time to figure out exactly what to do but, once we get past race five or six, I think he’ll have a much better handle on things.”
Do you expect the rule changes to benefit your driving style?
“I’d certainly like to think that the rule changes for this year with the aero and the engine changes will benefit my sort of style a little bit more. Why I’m so good in the XFINITY Series, I’m not exactly sure, but I’d like to be able to keep that tradition going in that series and, if I can, carry it over to the Cup Series with the cars becoming closer together. I look forward to the opportunity and the challenges that present themselves for this year, but also the opportunity for me to work with Adam (Stevens) and to bring him up to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series level and to hopefully carry on our same success that we had in the XFINITY Series.”
How differently do you attack this season after watching the new Chase format last season?
“I think you have to attack this year differently than what has happened in years past, and based off the information we all learned last year through the Chase and everything that happened. One scenario I’ve got involves my win at California. If Kyle Larson would have pushed the issue a little bit more and he would have won that race, it would have knocked us out of the Chase the way things fell and Larson would have been in the Chase. You have to look at it every single week as that could be your shot to get into the Chase and there isn’t necessarily next week. There is but, if you don’t get it or make it happen within the next however many weeks before the Chase starts, then essentially you’ve not given yourself the opportunity to make the Chase.”
What advice have you received from other drivers about becoming a father?
“There have been situations where you’re just casually talking to (Matt) Kenseth or Denny (Hamlin) or whatever about kids, and some of the stories you hear. I’ve also talked with (Jamie) McMurray and (Aric) Almirola. So, you get to talk to those guys who have had kids and just kind of hear some of their stories and how they did it and what they do. It does give you a new perspective. I have no way to know what to expect with what’s coming, but people tell you all the time what to expect. I think every situation is different. Your family and your livelihood, how you grew up and how you were raised, and how your wife grew up and was raised, and trying to merge those together into how you want to raise your kid, it’s going to be challenging but something that Samantha (wife) and I look forward to.”
- Tom Jensen
NASCAR Editor at FOXSports.com & RACER Magazine