The Candy Man Can
HUNTERSVILLE, North Carolina (Aug. 19, 2015) – The song “The Candy Man (Can)” first appeared in the 1971 movie classic “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.” Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 Skittles Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), is known as quite the candy man himself. He’s wearing the bright, red colors of Skittles this weekend at the half-mile bullring known as Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, while also sporting the colorful and iconic candy brands throughout the rest of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season with fellow Mars products such as M&M’S Crispy and SNICKERS.
As Busch has proven in just the 12 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races he’s competed in thus far in 2015, the candy man can. After suffering leg and foot injuries at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway in February, Busch was forced to sit out the first 11 races of the season. What he has done since his return is nothing short of amazing. In those 12 starts, Busch has racked up four wins, five top-five finishes and six top-10s and has put himself in position to punch his ticket to this year’s Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship playoffs. With his four wins, all Busch now needs to do is stay in the top-30 in driver points. Last weekend at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, he expanded the margin to 31st-place Cole Whitt to 23 points with three regular-season races remaining.
Another thing the candy man can do is win races in bunches at northeast Tennessee’s “Thunder Valley,” site of Saturday’s annual Irwin Tools Night Race. Busch has five Sprint Cup wins at Bristol while also recording eight top-five finishes and 12 top-10s in 20 career Sprint Cup starts. Amazingly enough, Busch won three of the four Sprint Cup races at the .533-mile short track in 2009 and 2010.
The driver of the Skittles Camry will look to repeat an impressive feat that occurred during that stretch, when he posted the first “triple” in NASCAR history by winning the Sprint Cup, Xfinity, and Camping World Truck Series races that week. Busch will again compete in all three races this week, starting with Wednesday’s Truck Series race, as he makes his only attempt at all three races in a weekend during the 2015 season.
While Busch is a factor any time he travels to Bristol, it’s interesting to note Busch didn’t immediately take to the place. During his rookie year in 2005, he posted finishes of 28th and 33rd. But his record since then at the “World’s Fastest Half-Mile” has been impressive to say the least. After bringing home finishes of eighth and second in 2006, Busch captured his first Bristol Sprint Cup win in March 2007. The track was resurfaced after that race and, from 2008 to 2011, nobody has been better at the concrete short track than Busch. He scored four wins and six top-10s from 2008 until another change to the track surface prior to the August 2012 race weekend. Busch is looking to recapture the magic from his four years of dominance there on the current surface.
So as Busch goes for his sixth career Sprint Cup win at Bristol Saturday night, the candy man flying the red Skittles colors certainly can add another Bristol trophy to the collection during what has already been an amazing season of tragedy to triumph.
KYLE BUSCH, Driver of the No. 18 Skittles Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:
What’s so special to you about the night race at Bristol?
“I think what makes the night race at Bristol so special is because it’s at night. The spring race there is during the day but, when you get into the hot summer nights there in Tennessee and you are getting close to Chase time, it’s definitely time to go and win a race if you haven’t yet. It’s just a cool atmosphere. All the fans and everyone, with all the people who camp there all week long and stay for the race Saturday night, it’s a cool event. Everyone at Joe Gibbs Racing has been working really hard and bringing great cars to the track every week, and this weekend we go to a place that gives me a lot of confidence with our Skittles Camry on Saturday night.”
What makes you so good at Bristol Motor Speedway?
“I’m not exactly sure what makes me so good at Bristol. I’ve just had a lot of success there, but I’ve also had some misfortune there, too. Ever since I got through my rookie year, I’ve just taken a liking to the place. But, when they changed the track to this current surface in 2007, I just really took to it even more. I really liked it and I’ve been fast there, but also I’ve had great racecars from Joe Gibbs Racing. It’s just a fun racetrack no matter what series I’m running there. Like I said, we haven’t been as good since they made the changes in 2012 there, but we have been gaining on it and I’m hoping we can get back to form there this weekend. You really have to be on your game at Bristol. You make one mistake, or someone else makes one mistake, that’s it. We’re hoping things will fall in place this weekend with our Skittles Camry and we get to victory lane.”
What is your most memorable experience at Bristol?
“The one that stands out the most for me is August 2010 – being able to do the sweep. We won the Truck race on Wednesday night, backed it up in the Xfinity Series race Friday and took home the trophy from the Cup race on Saturday night.”
What is the most challenging aspect of Bristol?
“I think the most challenging aspect of Bristol is just how difficult it is to transition through from the straightaways to the corners, back to the straightaways, and have your car set up in order to do all that. Sometimes you can be really loose getting in, or you can be really tight in the middle – you just seem to never be able to get a good-flowing car that works well there. Drivers have to do a lot of manipulation on the racetrack with their car in order to try to make the best of it.”
How have you figured out the best way to get around Bristol Motor Speedway?
“Things have just kind of really worked well together. It’s a fun place that you like going to. You enjoy the race around there. We grew up at the ‘Bullring’ (in Las Vegas), and stuff like that. They aren’t as banked as Bristol is, but I love going and racing at Winchester (Indiana) and at Slinger (Wisconsin), Salem (Indiana) – those are all really high-banked racetracks that are a half-mile in distance, or a quarter. They’re really fun to race around and you kind of get a great feel for racing in a bowl. You go down the straightaway and you slam it into the corners and you mash the gas and you kind of sling right back out of the corners. It’s a lot of fun to do that. It’s kind of an art. Some guys are really good at it, and some find a knack that makes them really good at it and makes it seem easy.”
What makes Bristol Motor Speedway so unique and a place that fans love?
“Bristol Motor Speedway is one of the best racetracks on the circuit. All the fans love it because of the excitement, the run-ins, and the close-quarter action with all the cars being packed on top of one another at a half-mile racetrack with us 43 lunatics running around in a tight circle. With the fans, the atmosphere there always makes for a good time.”
- Krista K. Massey
Former Group Vice President, Director of Sponsorships and Event Marketing
SunTrust Banks, Inc.