The Candy Man Can
HUNTERSVILLE, North Carolina (April 12, 2016) – The song “The Candy Man” first appeared in the 1971 movie classic “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.” It was later made famous by a version sung by legendary singer Sammy Davis Jr. in 1972.
But to help celebrate the 75th anniversary for iconic candy brand M&M’S, the song was reimagined by producer/artist Zedd and singer Aloe Blacc earlier this year for a whole new generation.
Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’S 75th anniversary Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), is known as quite the candy man himself. He’s wearing the bright, yellow colors of M&M’S 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 that include SNICKERS and Skittles.
Racing’s “Candy Man” is on quite the streak as the series heads to the Tennessee track known as the “World’s Fastest Half-Mile” and “The Last Great Colosseum.” Busch posted his second consecutive NASCAR sweep of the weekend by winning the Xfinity Series and Sprint Cup Series races last weekend at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, following up a Camping World Truck Series and Sprint Cup sweep of Martinsville the week prior. The Texas double was Busch’s ninth Xfinity and Sprint Cup weekend sweep. The back-to-back NASCAR sweeps mark the first time it has been done in more than 25 years as Harry Gant swept both races in consecutive weekends in 1991 at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway and Dover (Del.) International Speedway. In addition to Gant’s weekend sweeps, he was also riding a four-race win streak in Sprint Cup competition, in addition to the two wins in what is now called the Xfinity Series.
In the 32 Sprint Cup races Busch has started since returning from injury last May, he has won seven times, a stretch that also includes the 2015 Sprint Cup championship. Along with the seven wins, Busch has posted 18 top-five finishes and 22 top-10s and has led 1,255 laps. To go with his two wins thus far this season, Busch has posted top-five finishes in six of the first seven races. He finished the season in 2015 on a streak of four consecutive top-five finishes.
Not only is Busch winning everywhere as of late, another thing the “Candy Man” can do is win races in bunches at Northeast Tennessee’s “Thunder Valley,” site of Sunday’s Food City 500. Busch has five Sprint Cup wins at Bristol among his eight top-fives and 13 top-10s in 21 career starts. Amazingly enough, Busch won three of the four Sprint Cup races at the .533-mile short track in 2009 and 2010.
While he 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 half-mile bullring 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 and third in a row this season Sunday afternoon, the “Candy Man” flying the yellow M&M’S colors certainly can add another Bristol trophy to the collection during what has already been an amazing season so. The “Candy Man” Can.
KYLE BUSCH, Driver of the No. 18 M&M’S Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:
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 like they have been lately with our M&M’S Camry and we get to victory lane there again. That’s always the goal each weekend.”
What does it feel like to win four NASCAR races in eight days?
“It’s pretty darn good, I’ll tell you that. I’ve got a great wife, a great son and I’m having a blast, living the dream with Adam Stevens (crew chief) and these guys, and Joe (Gibbs, JGR owner) and JD (Gibbs, JGR co-chairman), thinking about you guys back at home and of course Coy (Gibbs, JGR COO). Everybody back at the shop has been building great racecars. They’ve been doing a great job for us. The crew chiefs here have been really working together, gelling together and putting everything together. It’s just fun, right now. It’s all clicking and going together. I think it’s maybe a little bit of a struggle for (Matt) Kenseth right now, but man, I’ve been in that position before. You just have to fight through it. Maybe I can give the old man a little bit of advice this week. I’ll talk to him. Things are great for our team. Can’t say enough about our team.”
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 40 lunatics running around in a tight circle. With the fans, the atmosphere there always makes for a good time.”
- Tom Jensen
NASCAR Editor at FOXSports.com & RACER Magazine