HUNTERSVILLE, North Carolina (May 16, 2017) – M&M’S® is unsquaring caramel with its new M&M’S® Caramel Chocolate candies now available at retailer nationwide. So it only seems appropriate that M&M’S Caramel will make its debut on Kyle Busch’s No. 18 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) on the 1.5-mile oval at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway for Saturday night’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series All-Star Race.
In what could arguably be the biggest innovation in M&M’S history, it took years to develop the technology and machines required to get the soft caramel ingredient into the signature hard candy shell. Gone are the days of the square-shaped, square-wrapped caramel candies – M&M’S® has updated one of the most popular flavors by covering soft caramel in a delicious, candy-coated shell. Starting with Saturday’s All-Star Race, Busch is scheduled to sport the new M&M’S Caramel colors at 13 Cup Series races during through the summer and fall.
The debut for the M&M’S Caramel scheme Saturday night will come in a race that always seems to be tailor-made for the aggressive driving style of the 2015 Cup Series champion. Busch first left his non-points-race mark on the 2009 edition of the All-Star Race. NASCAR introduced 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 shortly after the 2009 All-Star race.
Busch locked in his spot for this year’s All-Star event – comprised primarily of 2016 and 2017 Cup Series race winners, plus past All-Star Race winners and past series champions – via his four series wins in 2016. The Las Vegas native not only has earned the title of All-Star, he’s one of the dominant forces in NASCAR’s top series, totaling 171 career wins in NASCAR’s top three divisions – Cup, Xfinity, and Camping World Truck – and is tied for 19th on the all-time Cup Series win list with JGR teammate Matt Kenseth.
While Busch has accomplished plenty in his 13-plus Cup Series seasons, one thing that still eludes him is not only a win in the All-Star Race, but a Cup Series win of any kind at the 1.5-mile oval in the backyard of the home for a majority of the race teams. Charlotte is one of only two tracks on the current schedule where Busch hasn’t won, the other being Pocono (Pa.) Raceway.
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 as he shoots for his first All-Star win, he’ll hope that unsquaring caramel in his debut in the M&M’S Caramel colors will be just what he needs to check off another accomplishment during his impressive career.
KYLE BUSCH, Driver of the No. 18 M&M’S Caramel 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 the Cup Series 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 things on my list over the last couple of years with the championship in 2015 and wins at the Brickyard 400, Martinsville, Kansas. It’s been quite a ride. I’m looking forward to this weekend, for sure, in our debut with our M&M’S Caramel car. M&M’s worked for several years to develop Caramel, so we’re really excited to help them launch the product this weekend on the racetrack and get fans to the store to buy them and check them out.”
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 Cup car with our M&M’S Caramel 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 tweaks to the package and the racing has certainly been good so far this year.”
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 Clash 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 checkers 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.”
- Tom Jensen
NASCAR Editor at FOXSports.com & RACER Magazine