Just Win, Baby

HUNTERSVILLE, North Carolina (Sept. 26, 2017) – The late Al Davis of the NFL’s Oakland Raiders made famous the phrase “Just Win, Baby.”

For Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’S Caramel Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), the mantra seems appropriate for this weekend’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Dover (Del.) International Speedway, the final race of the Round of 16 in the 2017 playoffs. 

The 2015 Cup Series champion and his team will already be looking forward to the start of the second round of the playoffs the following weekend at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway after locking themselves into the Round of 12 with a win last weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon. The New Hampshire win was Busch’s first in a playoff race since his championship-sealing victory in 2015 at the Homestead-Miami Speedway finale. And it was Busch’s first win to advance in the playoffs since the elimination format began in 2014.

But before they head for Charlotte, Busch, crew chief Adam Stevens and the entire M&M’S Caramel team look to do the only thing that they can to advance their position in the playoffs – “Just Win, Baby.” In addition to being locked into the Round of 12, Busch and his team will hope to add more valuable playoff points to the war chest. Last weekend alone, their Stage 2 win and the race victory added six more points to their playoff total, which can be transferred through each round. Busch now has a total of 36 playoff points, the second-most behind points-leader Martin Truex Jr., who has accumulated 59.

The bottom line for the M&M’S Caramel team is a win is all that matters in Sunday’s Apache Warrior 400 at Dover in order to accumulate more playoff points with an eye on advancing to this year’s championship race at Homestead in November.

Much like the first two playoff venues at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois and New Hampshire, Busch and his M&M’S Caramel team have some impressive stats at Dover to bolster their confidence. Busch has two Cup Series wins, five NASCAR Xfinity Series wins and four NASCAR Camping World Truck Series wins to his credit at the concrete mile oval. Busch has led 1,158 laps in his previous 25 Cup Series starts at Dover, an average of almost 45 per race. He will look to improve on his runner-up finish at Dover in last fall’s playoff race, which is among his 11 top-five finishes and 15 top-10s at the track known as the “Monster Mile.”

So, as the M&M’S Caramel team heads to Dover, Busch will have one focus, which is not much different than any other race as he looks to “Just Win, Baby,” in Sunday afternoon’s 400-miler on the Delmarva Peninsula in Delaware’s capital city. 

KYLE BUSCH, Driver of the No. 18 M&M'S Caramel Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing: 

What will be the team’s goals this weekend at Dover?

“Winning is really all that matters for us this weekend but, if we can’t do that, we’ll work on getting the best finish possible like we always do. We just need to keep executing as a team like we’ve been doing pretty much every week. Dover has been a good place for me. We ran really well there last fall and ended up second. I know Adam (Stevens, crew chief) and all the M&M’S Caramel guys are working hard to have a good car off the truck and get us off to a strong start this weekend and, hopefully, we can finish off a strong run there this time.” 

Now that you are locked into the Round of 12, is your focus any different than usual going into Dover this weekend?

“I think the biggest thing for us is to just keep focusing on what we’ve done all year long, just keep trying to go out there and run hard, run smooth and be good at what we do. Having fast racecars helps us to be able to stay out front.  We’ve got a good pit crew. They did a good job at New Hampshire, did everything right. And from there, this weekend, we’re just trying to collect stage points, go out there and race as hard as we can, get stage wins, get race wins, and do what we can in order to keep padding that cushion that we have for the start of every round.”

What does it take to be successful at Dover?

“Dover, being a concrete track, is challenging. They’re all a challenge, but Dover is especially so, just because of the way you have to run around that place. The way tires sometimes wear out. The way the rubber gets put down there. You’ve got to be fast through the corner. Two-thirds of your lap time is through the turns rather than down the straightaway, so you definitely have to make sure you have a good-handling racecar – one that’s good in the beginning of the run on low air pressures and one that’s good at the end of the run on high air pressures, and even through traffic, too. Some of the most challenging times are when you’re trying to get through traffic with guys.”

Do you enjoy racing at Dover?

“It’s definitely a fast racetrack. It’s a fun racetrack, too. It makes it interesting when you get to traffic, when you have to pass guys, when you’re kind of falling down into the hole and jumping back up out of the hole to the straightaways. It’s a good place to race. It’s a competitive racetrack and, when the rubber gets laid down, it definitely changes the whole atmosphere and the whole way you run around that place.” 

Does going from concrete to asphalt change the way the car handles?

“We don’t run on an asphalt racetrack that’s banked like that or shaped like that. The mile tracks we go to that are asphalt are Phoenix and Loudon, and they are relatively flat. The concrete just changes the feel a little bit, of course, and changes the way you approach the racetrack, too.” 

You have two Cup wins and a competitive history at Dover. What is your outlook with your history there? 

“I love that place. It’s fun to race there and it’s a place I’m looking forward to going to with our M&M’S Caramel Camry. I went there when I was 18 to race in the Xfinity Series for my first time. It will scare you the first time you race there. You carry so much speed at that racetrack and, for it to be a mile in length and for it to be concrete – concrete surfaces that we race on, anyway, are a little bit slick. It’s definitely a roller-coaster ride and you need to treat it like it’s fun and not to be scared of the place, I think, because you can get so much out of that place. There are two ways about it – you can probably be really, really good there, or really, really bad there. Some days you’re going to be better than others, obviously, with how you can get your car set up compared to the competition.”

Notes of Interest:

  • The Apache Warrior 400 at Dover (Del.) International Speedway will mark Kyle Busch’s 455th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start and his 26th NASCAR Cup Series start at Dover.
  • Busch has career totals of 41 wins, 27 poles, 158 top-five finishes, 236 top-10s and 13,979 laps led in 454 career Cup Series racesHis most recent Cup Series win came last weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon. Busch’s most recent pole, the 27th of his career, also came last weekend at New Hampshire. He now has eight poles this season, a career high.
  • Busch has two wins, 11 top-five finishes and 15 top-10s and has led a total of 1,158 laps in 25 career Cup Series starts at Dover. Busch’s average Dover finish is14.8.