Looking For a Halloween Treat at Martinsville
HUNTERSVILLE, North Carolina (Oct. 22, 2019) –With Halloween right around the corner, Kyle Busch and the No. 18 M&M’S Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), will race Sunday afternoon at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway once again sporting the colorful candymaker’s special Halloween scheme to celebrate M&M’S Halloween fun packs.
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 grandfather 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, qualifying him for the winner-take-all Homestead playoff finale and allowing him and his team to focus on it a few weeks early.
The spooky-looking M&M’S scheme will race four days before Halloween at a place that used to challenge Busch at the start of his career, and early on in his 12-year tenure with JGR. Busch finished outside the top-10 in three of his first four Martinsville races with JGR in 2008 and 2009. Since then, Busch has scored eight straight top-five finishes there and he hopes a ninth straight top-five Sunday will boost his championship hopes.
The beginning of the recent success at Martinsville for Busch and the M&M’s team came with 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. His win at Martinsville in October 2017 came late in the race.
With just four races left in the season, and with the series kicking off the Round of 8 of the 2019 playoffs at Martinsville this weekend, Busch knows a repeat performance from 2017 would be just the ticket in his efforts to bring home his second Cup Series championship for the M&M’S Halloween team.
All season long, Busch and his team have never backed down from a challenge. He was able to advance through the first two playoff rounds, most recently with a solid third-place finish in Sunday’s Round of 12 finale at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City. Now that he’s made it to the final eight, Busch knows he and his team have some work to do to make it to the championship race at Homestead.
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 since 2015 at Martinsville. Since he already conquered the .526-mile short track in Southern Virginia twice in recent years, 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 marathon, 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 third there in the spring and have been able to string together several top-five's in-a-row there. 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 a few spots 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’ve won a few at Texas, we won Martinsville twice and Phoenix has been getting better for us, too, winning the last two races there. 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, if you are able to get to Homestead 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 531st career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start and his 29th NASCAR Cup Series start at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.
- Busch has career totals of 55 wins, 31 poles, 198 top-five finishes, 293 top-10s and 17,225 laps led in 530 career Cup Series races. His most recent Cup Series win came in June at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway. Busch’s most recent pole, the 30th of his career, came last October at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.
- Busch has two wins, 16 top-five finishes and 17 top-10s and has led a total of 1,424 laps in 28 Cup Series starts at Martinsville. Busch’s average Martinsville finish is12.0.