Finding a ‘Nose’ for Victory at Kansas
HUNTERSVILLE, North Carolina (May 3, 2016) – After winning his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway last month, Kyle Busch crossed one more track off the list of venues he had not won at in NASCAR’s top series.
In fact, after crossing off a win at historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway last summer, and adding Martinsville to the list this spring, the 31-year-old Las Vegas native now has just three venues where he has not brought home a Sprint Cup win. Those are Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway, Pocono (Pa.) Raceway, and Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, site of Saturday night’s Go Bowling 400.
Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’S Red Nose Day Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), heads to Kansas coming off a fifth-place finish during his most recent trip there last October. Add a third-place run in October of 2014 and Busch hopes to parlay two consecutive top-five finishes into a win this weekend at a track that has caused him misfortune, but is also a place where the surface has finally started to wear and become more agreeable.
The special paint scheme Busch will be running on the No. 18 M&M’S Toyota Saturday night highlights M&M’S support of Red Nose Day. Parent company Mars is proud to be a partner of Red Nose Day, a nationwide charitable event that will be held May 26. Red Nose Day is a campaign dedicated to raising money by simply having fun and making people laugh. Money raised is spent to help lift children and young people out of poverty in the U.S. and in some of the poorest communities in the world. The inaugural Red Nose Day was held in the U.S. on May 21, 2015, and is coming back for a second time in three weeks.
For the second year in a row, M&M’S is engaging consumers in the #MakeMLaugh campaign, designed to generate laughs and funds for Red Nose Day. M&M’S is on a mission to raise money and awareness for Red Nose Day by hosting a 30 days of laughs challenge. Busch will launch his own Red Nose Day challenge May 6 on Twitter (@KyleBusch), the day before he runs his M&M’S Red Nose Day Toyota in the 400-miler at Kansas. When someone does the challenge and shares it on social media using the hashtag #MakeMLaugh, M&M’S will donate $1 to Red Nose Day, up to $500,000.
Despite the dry spell at Kansas in NASCAR’s top series, Busch has tasted success at Kansas in NASCAR Xfinity Series competition – as is the case at most racetracks on the Xfinity schedule – with victories in 2007, and the fall races in 2014 and 2015. Busch also brought home a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series win at Kansas in April 2014, all of which no doubt add to his growing confidence on the fast, 1.5-mile oval.
So, as the Sprint Cup Series heads to Kansas for Saturday night’s race under the lights, Busch will look to finally have a nose for victory lane as he looks for his first-ever Sprint Cup win in the Heartland of America.
KYLE BUSCH, Driver of the No. 18 M&M’S Red Nose Day Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:
Kansas has been a frustrating place for you during your career, but have you and your team turned the corner there with two top-five finishes the last two races you’ve run there?
“I think so. We ran third there in the fall of 2014. I wasn’t there last year in the spring since that was the last race I was recovering from my injury, but (Erik) Jones ran up front until he ended up wrecking. Last fall, Adam (Stevens, crew chief) and the M&M’S guys did an awesome job and we ran top-five again. We tested there before the October race and I think we learned a lot that we were able to use during the race weekend. The last few races there, the track really has started to change and the groove is starting to spread out, and it makes me more comfortable when a track gets worn in. Kansas is one of the few places I haven’t won in Sprint Cup, but I feel like we keep getting closer and closer each time we go back. Adam and the guys have been bringing really good racecars to the track every weekend and, when you have great cars and run up front, good things are going to happen. I feel like, at least heading into the weekend, we have our best chance yet to win there with our M&M’S and Red Nose Day initiative on our car this weekend. We have a good shot to cross Kansas off the list, for sure.”
You’ve had some tough runs at Kansas, but how much does your finish there last year help your confidence?
“I’m not sure what it is, but (Erik) Jones was doing a fabulous job there in the spring. He was really fast and looked good and then got caught up in a crash in the late going. I’m looking forward to getting back, especially the way we ran there in the fall with another top-five finish. I felt like that was a positive for how Adam Stevens is and what he does with his racecars.”
Are you doing anything different in the racecar now, compared to earlier in your career?
“I wouldn’t say necessarily that I’m doing anything different. Certainly, I think that circumstances are going our way maybe a little bit more. Why? I’m not sure. I’ve just had some really fast racecars. The guys have been doing a great job at Joe Gibbs Racing, both on the Xfinity side and the Sprint Cup side. We’ve had a good taste of success here recently and it feels good and, when times are good, things seem easy, of course, so we’d like to keep it that way. Overall, I think there are some things still for me to learn over the years that maybe I’m not quite as good at that I could be better at. Just different racetracks and being able to run well at different times or different aspects. Charlotte for instance – haven’t won there – Kansas and places like that. I feel like we can go each and every week and have a legitimate chance to win each and every week, which is probably the first time in my career that I’ve had that, so it’s pretty good.”
How does this momentum differ from what you went through last year?
“I think momentum is momentum. What we did last year with me coming back and sort of struggling the first five races a little bit and not getting what we wanted out of it, and then sort of taking off in the summer months and having some good results and keeping that together through the end of the season and winning the championship – I think that just sort of solidified our team’s ability and what we were all about and that we weren’t some fluke that ended up in the Chase. It gives us great pride and strength to know that we’ve come out this year and, besides a tire failure at California, that we’ve had top-fives at every race. We’ve been really, really strong. Adam (Stevens, crew chief) and the guys again have done a great job for me, to give me cars that are good to drive and that keep us up front. I don’t think it’s anything short of what we’re all about and I think what we should be able to do from here on out.”
- Krista K. Massey
Former Group Vice President, Director of Sponsorships and Event Marketing
SunTrust Banks, Inc.