Choosing a Winner
HUNTERSVILLE, North Carolina (April 18, 2018) – Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’S Flavor Vote Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), knows plenty about winning. He’s the winner 45 career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races, which includes the last two stops on the circuit coming at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth and Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.
Richmond (Va.) International Raceway, site of Saturday night’s Toyota Owners 400, is a place where Busch could bring home his third consecutive checkered flag while sporting a scheme that could help choose another type of winner.
Busch will debut a brand new scheme at Richmond this weekend as the M&M’S brand has recently launched three, brand-new, limited-edition flavors as part of its second Flavor Vote campaign: Crunchy Espresso, Crunchy Raspberry and Crunchy Mint. The new flavors are on sale at select retailers nationwide, where fans can purchase and try each new flavor and cast a vote for their favorite once a day until May 25.
Each new M&M’S flavor is made with dark chocolate and is wrapped in the brand’s signature colorful crispy shell, offering fans a chocolatey crunch in every bite. The Crunchy Raspberry variety features a regular rice crisp center, and the Crunchy Espresso and Crunchy Mint varieties feature a cocoa rice crisp center.
M&M’S has made it easier than ever for its fans to try all the new flavors and vote for their favorite right from their cell phones. Fans can vote by uploading or taking a “selfie” at flavorvote.mms.com, or adding stickers to the image representing their favorite flavor. They can also share their reactions on social media with the hashtags #VoteCrunchyEspresso, #VoteCrunchyRaspberry or #VoteCrunchyMint. The brand’s camera-shy fans can simply select their favorite flavor on the website to submit a vote, or text the word “VOTE” to 84444. The flavor with the most votes will be announced in August and will continue to be sold at stores nationwide for an 18-month period.
Back to the task at hand this weekend, a quick look at the Richmond stat sheet for Busch can easily make the case he is most consistent at the .75-mile short track in Virginia’s capital city. Along with four series wins there, Busch has amassed 15 top-five finishes and 18 top-10s in 25 career starts there.
Additionally, the Las Vegas native is tops among active drivers with his average finishing position of 7.4 at Richmond. Next best is Kevin Harvick’s average finish of 8.4. Busch has completed all but one of the 10,026 laps available to him in his 25 Richmond starts. Of those laps completed, Busch has run in the top-15 for 8,855 laps, or 88.3 percent, which is second-most among active drivers.
Saturday night, Busch and the M&M’S Flavor Vote team look to get back to victory lane, where Busch ended up after four consecutive spring-race wins from 2009 to 2012, besting Richard Petty’s previous record of three Richmond spring-race wins in a row from 1971 to 1973. With those impressive statistics and records to back him up, it’s little wonder that a visit to the “Capital of the Commonwealth of Virginia” is one of Busch’s favorite stops on the NASCAR tour.
Busch will be shooting for his third consecutive win this weekend, a feat he accomplished during his 2015 Cup Series championship season with consecutive victories at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon and Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He narrowly missed a fourth consecutive win the following week at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway, when his gas tank ran dry while leading on the white-flag lap.
So, as the series heads to Richmond for the first time this season, Busch and the M&M’S Flavor Vote team look to bring home their fifth career win there. While M&M’S fans will be choosing a winner between Crunchy Espresso, Raspberry, and Mint off the track, Busch will look to continue his winnings ways on it.
KYLE BUSCH, Driver of the No. 18 M&M'S Flavor Vote Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:
What are your thoughts going into Richmond this weekend?
“I’m looking forward to Richmond. We’ve kind of lost a little bit of what our handle was there a few years ago when we were really good. More rule changes to create parity takes away advantages from other teams and that kind of knocked us back a little bit. We haven’t quite figured out what it takes to get some of that back. We’ve been third to sixth to seventh there the last two or three years, so the last six times. Hopefully, we can get a little bit better and I know (Matt) Kenseth was really good there a few springs ago and that was under the lights, and we’re going back under the lights, so that should be a little different feel for that race. We’ve got the M&M’S Flavor Vote scheme on our car this weekend and hoping fans get a chance to try all three flavors – Crunchy Espresso, Crunchy Raspberry and Crunchy Mint – and get on social media to vote with a hashtag for their favorite. Of course, hoping we can put the M&M’S Toyota in victory lane at the Toyota Owner’s 400 and make it three wins in a row, as well.”
What does it take to get around Richmond?
“Richmond is getting a little trickier, it seems like, just with the asphalt kind of getting older and the way the cars are. The consensus at Richmond is, of course, just trying to get your car to turn, but also having really good forward bite. You have to be able to get off the corners at Richmond. You have to have good brakes, as well, and be able to turn the center. All of it correlates. Everything you want as a racecar driver, you’ve got to have most all of it and, if you don’t, then you better hope you have more forward bite than the rest of them. That’s sort of the equation of Richmond. It’s a fun place to race. It’s really cool. As a driver, you wish it could widen out and give you more options of being able to run around in different grooves, but it hasn’t shown us that the last couple of years. We’re hoping to get our M&M’S Flavor Vote Camry back to form there. We were very good last spring, but we’d like to get another victory there, for sure.”
What is it about Richmond that suits your driving style?
“I love Richmond. It’s one of my favorite racetracks and one of my best racetracks. I love being able to go there and, of course, we put on some pretty good races there. We won four spring races in a row and I would have loved to have made it five or more. It’s a neat racetrack and it’s certainly an excitement track and there is a lot of action that happens there.”
Can you compare Bristol and Richmond?
“There’s really no comparison between racetracks, honestly, because Charlotte, Texas, Atlanta – they all look the same from overhead, but they all drive not even close to the same. Richmond and Bristol are more than oil and water, more than day and night. Bristol is an attack-type racetrack yet, when you attack, you can get yourself in trouble. Richmond is a very methodical racetrack and you have to be very – you’re very on edge there all the time, especially corner entry, getting into the corners. You’re always loose there and you have to be able to be loose there in order to carry the speed through the middle and have good drive off. We’re back to two night races at Richmond again and sometimes nighttime just feeds itself with not as much grip and makes it to where the bottom is the preferred lane. Daytime allows the racetrack to widen out and be hotter where, on a cooler racetrack, you’re looking for where the rubber is for at least a little while until the whole track rubbers in, and then you have to go back to the bottom, anyway.”
Do you enjoy the atmosphere at Richmond?
“I think the coolest thing about Richmond is the atmosphere they have there with all the fans really getting into it. People love coming there and supporting that racetrack. It’s been around for a long time. It’s a fast racetrack. It’s only a three-quarter-mile oval but it has really high speeds that makes it fun for us drivers and makes excitement that’s fun for a fan. Martinsville is a short track and it’s slow, but Richmond is pretty quick.”
Notes of Interest:
- The Toyota Owners 400 will mark Kyle Busch’s 471st career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start and his 26th NASCAR Cup Series start at Richmond (Va.) Raceway.
- Busch has career totals of 45 wins, 29 poles, 167 top-five finishes, 248 top-10s and 14,847 laps led in 470 career Cup Series races. His most recent Cup Series win came last weekend at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, his second consecutive win. Busch’s most recent pole, the 29th of his career, also came last weekend at Bristol.
- Busch has four wins, 15 top-five finishes and 18 top-10s and has led a total of 1,059 laps in 25 career Cup Series starts at Richmond. Busch’s average Richmond finish is a series-high 7.4. Only 153 short of 15,000: Busch is 153 laps shy of the 15,000-laps-led mark in NASCAR’s top series.
- 45 Career Cup Series Wins: With his Cup Series win at Bristol last weekend, the 45th points-paying win of his career, Busch now sits alone at 16th on the all-time list just one win short of NASCAR Hall of Famer Buck Baker. With his 40th Cup Series victory at Bristol last August, Busch became the fourth-youngest driver to reach 40 Cup Series wins at 32 years, 109 days, behind only Richard Petty, Jeff Gordon, and Herb Thomas.