Playing the Percentages
HUNTERSVILLE, North Carolina (March 20, 2019) – In most professional sports, each event pits two teams against each other to find out who will come out on top. Some matchups turn out to be more or less even than others but, in theory, each team has a 50 percent chance of winning that day.
Now, there is one winner each time one of the three top NASCAR touring series take to the racetrack, but also 39 drivers in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, 37 in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, and 31 in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series who don’t get to victory lane each race.
Given the 1-in-39, 1-in-37 or 1-in-31 chance of a win each race, what Kyle Busch has done in NASCAR’s top three national series is impressive, to say the least. Busch brought home his 53rd career Cup Series win and his 200th overall NASCAR national series win last weekend at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California.
Coming off the 200th overall win last weekend, Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’S Chocolate Bar Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), will cross another milestone off his list this weekend at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. He’s set to run both the Truck Series race for his own Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) team Saturday, then Sunday’s Cup Series STP 500, the latter of which will give the M&M’S Chocolate Bar driver 1,000 career starts across NASCAR’s top three series. His winning percentages for his first 998 races tell quite the story.
- 503 starts
- 53 wins
- 10.5 percent win rate
- 348 starts
- 94 wins
- 27 percent win rate
- 147 starts
- 53 wins
- 36.1 percent win rate
- 998 starts
- 200 wins
- 20 percent win rate
Busch heads to Martinsville this weekend riding some impressive recent statistics at the paperclip-shaped half-mile oval. In his last seven starts there, Busch has two wins, seven top-five finishes and an impressive average finish of 2.8. 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.
The Las Vegas native has now won back-to-back Cup Series races at ISM Raceway near Phoenix and at Fontana the last two weeks and now looks to win three races in a row for the third time in his career. He first accomplished the feat in his Cup Series championship season in 2015, and also last season.
The M&M’S Chocolate Bar scheme on Busch’s No. 18 Toyota this weekend appears for the third time this season. The new permanent addition to the brand’s iconic candy lineup will be highlighted Sunday as Busch looks to continue his hot streak. The M&M’S Chocolate Bar consists of smooth milk chocolate with whole M&M’S® Minis visible in a large bar, and it’s available nationwide in five flavors: Peanut, Milk Chocolate, Crispy, Almond and Crispy Mint.
As Busch heads to Martinsville this weekend coming off his 200th overall win ready to make his 1,000th overall start, he’ll hope the percentages are once again in his favor as he sets his sights on more victories to add to his already impressive total.
KYLE BUSCH, Driver of the No. 18 M&M'S Chocolate Bar Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:
Where does win 200 come as far as your most memorable wins in your career?
“I guess Homestead 2015 is probably the biggest, right? Where does number 200 at Auto Club Speedway stand? I don’t know. Is it in one of the top-10 most memorable? Probably, because it is number 200, but only because it was. It’s not like the Daytona 500, Coke 600, Brickyard 400, anything like that. It was one of our races on our schedule. It just so happened to be in California. They’ve all been cherished for their particular reasons. I don’t want to discredit any of them. I think this milestone is obviously a special one to me. To many of those around me, my wife, my son, they will one day be able to recognize that. Adam Stevens (crew chief), my guys, many of the crews and crew chief people I’ve worked with over the course of my career obviously feel something about it, as well. It’s pretty cool to hear from those guys.”
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 several years. We led a lot of laps and we were really fast in our last seven races there. Hoping that some of those things we were able to push through there a few times before and get our M&M’S Chocolate Bar Camry in victory lane there this weekend. I can’t thank everyone at Mars and M&M’S for all they’ve done for my career. They’ve been a huge part of our 200 wins. We couldn’t do it without their support and the support of all our partners, as well.”
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 original goals did you have when you entered NASCAR?
“I think the original goal was just to get to NASCAR and then, once I got here, it was to win a race. Once I won a race, then it was about trying to sustain and being able to be a winner here and to be a champion here – to have the opportunities to continue down the line, to be able to be successful each and every year – and we’ve been doing that. We’ve only won one title, but certainly I feel like I have the best team out there right now and we just have to be able to do it all year long.”
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 have you put the Martinsville Speedway grandfather clocks you’ve won?
“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 504th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start and his 28th NASCAR Cup Series start at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.
- Busch has career totals of 53 wins, 31 poles, 187 top-five finishes, 274 top-10s and 16,211 laps led in 503 career Cup Series races. His most recent Cup Series win came last weekend at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, his second consecutive Cup Series victory. Busch’s most recent pole, the 30th of his career, came in October at Martinsville.
- Busch has two wins, 15 top-five finishes and 16 top-10s and has led a total of 1,424 laps in 27 career Cup Series starts at Martinsville. Busch’s average Martinsville finish is 12.3.
- 53 Career Cup Series Wins: With his Cup Series win at Fontana last weekend, the 53rd points-paying win of his career, Busch sits in 11th all-time in Cup Series wins and is one win away from tying NASCAR Hall of Famer Lee Petty’s 54 wins in NASCAR’s top series. With his 40th Cup Series victory at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway in August 2017, 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.
- 15 and 5 Club: Busch’s wins at Phoenix and Fontana the last two races means he has won at least one Cup Series race for 15 consecutive seasons. The wins also mean Busch has won back-to-back races for the fifth consecutive season.
- All 23: With his win at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway last May, Busch has now won a Cup Series race at all 23 tracks at which the series competes, becoming the first driver in the modern era to win at every track where he has made at least one start. Of the 23 different tracks where Busch has won, he has multiple wins at 13 of them.
- All-Time JGR Wins Leader: With his Brickyard 400 win in July 2016, Busch passed Tony Stewart for most all-time Cup Series wins for JGR. Busch now has 49 wins for JGR to Stewart’s 33 following his most recent win at Phoenix, along with besting Stewart’s Cup Series career win total.
- 200: Busch enters the weekend at Martinsville having reached 200 career wins among NASCAR’s top three divisions – Cup (53), Xfinity (94) and Truck (53) – following his Cup win last Sunday at Auto Club.
- 1,000: Busch enters the weekend at Martinsville having started 998 races among NASCAR’s top three divisions – Cup (503 starts), Xfinity (348 starts) and Truck (147 starts). He is entered in both the Cup Series and Truck Series races at Martinsville this weekend. Sunday’s STP 500 will mark Busch’s 1,000th overall start among NASCAR’s top three national series.