HUNTERSVILLE, North Carolina (May 17, 2016) – While Kyle Busch will sport his familiar yellow M&M’S Toyota this Saturday night during the non-points NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway, his number won’t be quite as familiar.
Busch will set aside the familiar No. 18 for just one race only to make way for No. 75 in honor of M&M’S 75th anniversary celebration. The one-time number change will be only the fourth different number Busch has used in his more than 400 races as a Sprint Cup Series driver. In addition to the No. 18 he has sported since 2008 with Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), Busch also used No. 5 from 2005 to 2007 in his first three full-time seasons with Hendrick Motorsports and, for a brief time, he also used the No. 84 in six starts for Hendrick during the 2004 season.
With the No. 75 adorning the side of his M&M’S Toyota this weekend, Busch has his sights set on winning his first All-Star Race this Saturday night in the $1 million-to-win non-points event. With another “home game” at Charlotte the following weekend, Busch will have the opportunity to bring home his first Sprint Cup victory there to add to his eight NASCAR Xfinity Series and six NASCAR Camping World Truck Series wins at the track, that is just a stone’s throw from home base for most of the sport’s race teams.
Along with the special number to celebrate M&M’S 75th anniversary, the week also marks a couple of other anniversaries for Busch. It was this very race a year ago where Busch began his return to racing after recovering from injuries sustained in February 2015 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. His sixth-place finish in the 2015 All-Star Race started a dream 365 days for Busch and his family. Two days after his return to racing at the All-Star race, on May 18, Busch and wife Samantha welcomed their first child to the world, Brexton, who will celebrate his first birthday Wednesday.
The rest of 2015 and thus far in 2016, Busch may well feel he’s living out something from a Hollywood script. He was able to rally to become eligible for the Chase for the Sprint Cup playoffs and went on to score his first Sprint Cup in November. Along with way, Busch has also been able to score landmark wins in NASCAR’s top series in 2015 and 2016. He brought home his first Sprint Cup win in the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway last July, followed by his first Sprint Cup win at Homestead-Miami Speedway, which secured the Sprint Cup title. Thus far this season, Busch captured the victory at more places that have eluded him for years, crossing Martinsville (Va.) Speedway and Kansas Speedway in Kansas City off his yet-to-win list.
Saturday night, it’s another non-points race that seems to be tailor-made for the driver of the No. 75 M&M’S Toyota for JGR. The Las Vegas native first left his non-points-race mark on the 2009 edition of the Sprint All-Star Race. NASCAR first instituted short-track-style, double-file restarts for just the All-Star Race that year. After Busch pulled off several bold moves that helped inject plenty of excitement into the race, it prompted NASCAR to go ahead and institute the double-file restart rule permanently for its top three series beginning at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway just three weeks later.
Also this weekend, fans can continue to share their favorite M&M’S racing memory on lap 75 of the All-Star Race, just like they can for every M&M’S® NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, using the hashtag #MMS75 in their social media posts. Fans who also include the hashtag #contest will be eligible to win M&M’S Racing gear.
So, as Busch views Saturday’s non-points-paying All-Star Race as his annual opportunity to throw patience out the window at his own discretion, he also knows an All-Star Race win is certainly higher up on his career bucket list. With all that he’s accomplished in the past year, it would be difficult to count him out.
KYLE BUSCH, Driver of the No. 75 M&M’S Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:
Are you excited to get the next opportunity to win an All-Star Race this weekend? And, where is the All-Star Race on your list of things you want to accomplish?
“Winning in Sprint Cup at Charlotte in general is higher up on the list right now, for sure. But certainly winning the All-Star Race would be very special, too. We’ve been very lucky to check off a lot of thing on my list over the last year with the championship, Brickyard 400, Martinsville, Kansas. It’s been quite a ride. I’m looking forward to this weekend, for sure. We will help celebrate M&M’S 75th anniversary with the No. 75 on the car for this weekend only. It’s probably the only time I’ll have 75 as a number so, hopefully, we can win the race. We could bat a thousand with that number and then put it back in retirement, I guess you would say.”
What are your expectations for the All-Star Race?
“I’m looking forward to it. This is always a pretty cool race and it has good atmosphere around it. The crowd gets jacked up and, of course, there is nothing important on the line besides a million bucks. You just go out there and race as hard as you can. You get some practice runs in, get some good practice in and make sure your car feels good to you. And you try to work on your speed, of course, as best you can. Qualifying – that’s certainly going to be interesting again this year. I think, all in all, it’s a fun event. We always enjoy coming to Charlotte and getting these two weeks – with the All-Star Race one of the shortest and most fun events, and then the Coca-Cola 600 with the longest event. It’s kind of two different ends of the spectrum at Charlotte and we’re hoping to finally get a win in the Sprint Cup car with our M&M’S Camry at least once over the next two weekends there.”
What driving style does it take to succeed in the All-Star Race?
“I think just being aggressive and knowing when to be aggressive and how to be aggressive is the biggest thing. It’s a race where you have to get to the front and you have to get out there and get yourself, more importantly, in clean air in order to keep yourself out front and on your own. I know they are making some minor tweaks to the package and the racing has certainly been good so far this year. I’m looking forward to seeing what those small tweaks to the package will do there this weekend so we can put that in our notebook for the 600.”
What does it mean to be a part of the All-Star Race in this sport?
“It matters, especially with who your fellow competitors are. For us, being an all-star and being in the All-Star Race is one of the most fun things we get to do each year. I’d say the Sprint Unlimited is another one of those and, with the All-Star Race, they are certainly two fun races where we get a chance to go after just a win and bring home the checkered or the wrecker. It’s an exciting night and there’s a lot of energy there. Charlotte does a great job. I think it’s an awesome venue for that race. It gives you the opportunity to run that many qualifying laps in a row. That’s all you’re doing – you’re giving it all you’ve got every single lap. You’re definitely up on top of the wheel and your guys do the best they can to give you a good car and to make it as lightweight as possible and throw away the air conditioning unit and keep all the front fans away from you – no radiator fan. All that stuff, just try to lighten that baby up and make it fast.”
What drivers do you think are best suited for the All-Star Race?
“You look at the guys who are really good who qualify well. I think qualifying well can always lend itself to racing the All-Star Race well because you’re running however many laps that segment is. You’re running that many qualifying laps in a row. You’re just trying to get the most you can out of your car there. It’s sometimes hard to pass because the guy in front of you is trying to get the most out of his car and so are you, so you just can’t get there.”
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