Adding a 'W' to the Halloween Treat Bag
HUNTERSVILLE, North Carolina (Oct. 24, 2018) –Halloween is right around the corner and, as has been typical for Kyle Busch the No. 18 M&M’S Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), the colorful candymaker will yet again go racing with a special Halloween scheme Sunday afternoon at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway to celebrate M&M’S Halloween fun packs leading into the big day next week.
Along with his favorite chocolate candies, Busch is looking for something else to add to his Halloween treat bag following Sunday’s First Data 500 at Martinsville, and that’s the traditional Martinsville clock trophy for winning at NASCAR’s shortest track. While the clock may be way too big for his treat bag, a win would be quite the treat as it would automatically qualify him for the season-ending Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway three weeks hence. Busch knows the feeling well as he won at Martinsville last October, sending him to the Homestead finale and allowing him and his team to focus on the last race of the season a few weeks early.
The spooky-looking M&M’S scheme will race three days before Halloween at a place that used to challenge Busch earlier in his career, and early on in his 11-year tenure with JGR. Busch finished outside the top-10 in three of his first four Martinsville races with JGR in 2008 and 2009. By contrast, Busch has scored eight top-five finishes in his last 11 starts there, with a worst finish of 15th.
The beginning of the recent success at Martinsville for Busch and the M&M’s team is the 2015 NASCAR Cup Series champion’s first career win at the paperclip-shaped oval in April 2016. Not only did he bring home his first Martinsville clock, he did it in dominating fashion, leading five times for a race-high 352 laps en route to victory lane, along with the win last October where he took the lead late.
With just four races left in the season, and with the series kicking off the Round of 8 of the 2018 playoffs at Martinsville this weekend, Busch knows a repeat performance from last October could go a long way in his efforts to bring home his second Cup Series championship for the M&M’S team.
All season long, Busch and his M&M’S Halloween team have not been ones to back down from a challenge. He was able to cruise through the first two playoff rounds, most recently with a solid runner-up finish in Sunday’s Round of 12 elimination race at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City. Now that he’s made it to the final eight, Busch feels he has just as good a shot as anyone to win his second Cup Series title.
So as the season heads into the homestretch, Busch and the M&M’S Halloween team know that, when it comes to being championship-eligible at Homestead, they’ll hope to take advantage of the confidence built during the last several years at Martinsville. Since he already conquered the .526-mile short track in Southern Virginia just last year, Busch hopes in addition to an M&M’S treat and the traditional Grandfather clock to add to his treat bag, a punched ticket to the championship race in Homestead will be waiting for him at the end of Sunday’s 500-lap race, as well.
KYLE BUSCH, Driver of the No. 18 M&M'S Halloween Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:
How do you feel about the race this week at Martinsville?
“We’ve run well the last several times at Martinsville and we’re definitely pumped about getting back there. I’m hoping we can have a really good car there again this time around like we did last time. We came home second there in the spring and won this race there last fall. The guys have been bringing fast cars there recently, and we feel really good about what we have for this weekend. Hoping that we can finish one spot better there than the spring this time around with our M&M’s Halloween Camry.”
How do you feel about the Round of 8 of the playoffs at Martinsville, Texas and Phoenix?
“I like it. I think it’s going to be good. I really look forward to this round. I feel like it’s our best round. We run well at all three of those places and we won at Texas in the spring, we won Martinsville last fall and Phoenix has been getting better for us, too. We just need to continue to execute and do a good job and make sure that we mind our Ps and Qs. There are certainly some areas that we need to clean up right now and continue to get better because, when you get to Homestead – you’ve got to get there first, but when you get there – you better be picture perfect, so hopefully we can get it all sorted out.”
What is the key to you getting a win at Martinsville?
“It’s a tough racetrack and, any time you come in the pits and make an adjustment on your car, you certainly hope it goes the right way, or you make enough of it, or you don’t make too much of an adjustment. The last run can be tricky, too, because you can be coming off a 50-lap run on right-side tires and take four and you’ve only got 30 (laps) to go, or you could have 80 to go and you know you have to manage that run all the way to the end.”
Your racecar is sporting the special M&M’s Halloween paint scheme this week. What was your favorite Halloween costume that you wore as a kid?
“Actually, one year I went as a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. I think that was my favorite costume as a kid. I was Michelangelo and I even had the fake nunchuk. One year, I was a football player and, one year, I even dressed up as Jeff Gordon since he was my favorite racecar driver when I was a kid.”
Growing up in Las Vegas, what do you remember about Halloween and trick-or-treating?
“It was always cold in Las Vegas during Halloween, even though it can be really hot most of the year. I guess the biggest memory was going out to everyone’s house and trick-or-treating and hanging out with friends as a group. Sometimes, people wouldn’t be home, so they had a bucket out and you would reach in and grab whatever you wanted out of the bucket. It was all about how much candy you could collect, not necessarily about how much you would eat when you got home.”
Notes of Interest:
- The First Data 500 will mark Kyle Busch’s 495th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start and his 27th NASCAR Cup Series start at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.
- Busch has career totals of 50 wins, 30 poles, 180 top-five finishes, 266 top-10s and 15,612 laps led in 494 career Cup Series races. His most recent Cup Series win came last month at Richmond (Va.) Raceway. Busch’s most recent pole, the 30th of his career, came on the 1.5-mile oval at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway in May.
- Busch has two wins, 14 top-five finishes and 15 top-10s and has led a total of 1,324 laps in 26 career Cup Series starts at Martinsville. Busch’s average Martinsville finish is 12.7.
- Martinsville Momentum: Busch as an average finish of 2.2, an average of 167.4 laps led, and 68.8 fastest laps over the last five races at Martinsville.