HUNTERSVILLE, North Carolina (March 20, 2018) – In April 2016, Kyle Busch headed to Martinsville (Va.) Speedway to make his 22nd Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start at the .526-mile paperclip-shaped oval.
Until that point, the driver of the No. 18 M&M’S Caramel Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) had previously posted nine top-five finishes in his previous 21 starts at Martinsville, but a win had eluded him. The previous day in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race, Busch has captured the first grandfather clock trophy of his career, then looked to bring home his first Sunday Cup Series win to complete his first weekend sweep at Martinsville.
That day, not only did the M&M’S Caramel driver capture the long sought-after grandfather clock trophy in Cup Series competition, but he did it in dominant fashion by leading a race-high 352 of 500 laps. Since that April 2016 race weekend, Busch has shown his strength at NASCAR’s shortest track. He’s led a total of 810 laps in his past four Martinsville starts and has finished fifth or better in his last five races there. That includes a pair of Cup Series victories in the last four races contested at the Southern Virginia short track, where NASCAR began racing back in 1948. Busch’s second career Martinsville Cup Series win was the most recent race there last October, when he led 184 laps en route to locking himself into the Championship Four playoff finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Martinsville was a much bigger challenge for Busch earlier in his career, especially during his early years racing under the JGR banner. In fact, Busch finished outside the top-10 in three of his first four races there with JGR in 2008 and 2009. By contrast, Busch has scored seven top-five finishes in his last 10 Martinsville starts with his worst finish being 15th.
Since his disappointing start to the season with a 25th-place finish at the Daytona 500, Busch has been a model of consistency, posting four top-10 finishes, including three consecutive top-threes in which he has come so very close to victory. While he currently sits second in the standings, Busch hopes to keep the momentum rolling from not only his last four outings this season, but from his last four visits to Martinsville as he aims to turn those strong finishes into victories.
So as Busch heads back to Martinsville for Sunday’s Cup Series STP 500, he hopes to collect another grandfather clock at the Southern Virginia short track that is quickly becoming one of his best.
KYLE BUSCH, Driver of the No. 18 M&M'S Caramel Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:
How do you feel about the race this week at Martinsville?
“We’ve run well the last two years especially 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 the last two years, especially. We led a lot of laps and we were really fast. Hoping that some of those things we were able to push through there last fall at Martinsville we’ll be able to do this time around with our M&M’s Caramel Camry.”
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.”
What do you feel is the biggest key to performing well in the longer races like this weekend at Martinsville?
“I think just being able to get comfortable, get settled, and make sure that you’re good to go for those long hauls. Don’t worry about what lap it is, ever, during a race. That’s the worst thing that could happen to you. You just try to not ever worry about what lap you’re on or what’s going on around you. You just keep battling, keep driving, keep your focus forward on what you’re doing. That’s the best way to go about those long, long races.”
Where did you put the Martinsville Speedway grandfather clocks?
“One’s at home in the foyer and I had to turn off the buzzer because it’s close to (son) Brexton’s room, so we don’t get to hear it. We heard it a couple of times while it went off, but then I turned it off. And then, the other ones, we have at KBM (Kyle Busch Motorsports).”
Notes of Interest:
- The STP 500 will mark Kyle Busch’s 468th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start and his 26th NASCAR Cup Series start at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.
- Busch has career totals of 43 wins, 28 poles, 164 top-five finishes, 245 top-10s and 14,590 laps led in 467 career Cup Series races. His most recent Cup Series win came in October at Martinsville. Busch’s most recent pole, the 28th of his career, came last month at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
- Busch has two wins, 13 top-five finishes and 14 top-10s and has led a total of 1,300 laps in 25 career Cup Series starts at Martinsville. Busch’s average Martinsville finish is 13.1.
- 43 Career Cup Series Wins: With his Cup Series win at Martinsville last October, the 43rd points-paying win of his career, Busch now sits alone in 17th on the all-time Cup Series win list, and one win behind NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott for 16th all-time. With his 40th Cup Series victory at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway in August, Busch became the fourth-youngest driver to reach 40 Cup wins at 32 years, 109 days, behind only Richard Petty, Jeff Gordon, and Herb Thomas.