Sending a (M&M'S) Message at Atlanta
HUNTERSVILLE, North Carolina (March 11, 2020) – Kyle Busch has a few messages to send as the NASCAR Cup Series heads back east to Atlanta Motor Speedway for Sunday’s Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500.
After disappointing finishes at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway and his hometown Las Vegas Motor Speedway to start the season, the defending Cup Series champion has roared back with a runner-up finish at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, and a third-place run last weekend at Phoenix Raceway to finish off the three-race West Coast swing.
Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’S Messages Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), would like nothing more than to send the ultimate message by returning to victory lane Sunday at Atlanta. Busch’s M&M’S Toyota this weekend features the new M&M’S Messages program, in stores now. These new packages display 36 different messages consumers can share with their friends and family, including expressions like, “You Make Mama Proud” and “Emotional Support Candy.” M&M’S Messages come in all of the favorite M&M’S flavors – Milk Chocolate, Peanut, Peanut Butter and Caramel.
Meanwhile, Busch returns at a racetrack this weekend where the winning began in 2008 with JGR. In 2008, his first year with JGR, Busch headed to Atlanta for the fourth Cup Series race of the season aiming to bring home the maiden victory for the team’s two new partners – Mars Wrigley Confectionary U.S. and Toyota. After leading a race-high 173 laps, the Las Vegas native broke through for the first time in NASCAR’s top series for Toyota, which was in its second year of Cup Series competition and its first year with JGR. Busch also added a second Atlanta Cup Series win in 2013 to go with five top-five finishes and eight top-10s at the 1.5-mile oval.
The win also marked the end of a 147-race drought for JGR’s No. 18 team, and it was Busch’s first of 47 Cup Series wins for JGR to date. Busch now has 188 overall wins among NASCAR’s top three series driving Toyota vehicles – 52 in the Cup Series, 85 in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, and 51 in the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series. Add his 21 wins prior to joining JGR at the beginning of 2008 and Busch is at 209 combined Cup Series, Xfinity and Truck Series wins overall, and counting.
So, as the Cup Series heads back to Atlanta, Busch and the M&M’S Messages team look to take lessons from their 2008 and 2013 race wins at the lightning-fast oval, and send a message to the rest of the field with their first win of the season. At race’s end, they’ll hope to be celebrating in victory lane holding the “Congrats on that thing that you did” message celebrating Busch’s 57th win in NASCAR’s top series.
KYLE BUSCH, Driver of the No. 18 M&M'S Messages Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:
You are coming off a second-place finish two weeks ago on the Fontana oval, a worn-out surface. Atlanta’s surface is also very worn. Are there any similarities you can take from one to another?
“Maybe a few things, but each track may seem like they are similar but every place is different and has different tendencies. Our guys at JGR are working really hard right now and we’ll see where we are this weekend. Last year, we had the accident in practice that set us back a bit and we were tight all day. We probably took a 15th-place car and finished sixth with it, I believe. We’ll see what this weekend brings with our M&M’S Messages Camry. Happy to have M&M’S back on the car for the first time since Daytona. They have a fun program with Messages on M&M’S packaging that I know a lot of fans will enjoy.”
With the way the racing is on the 1.5-mile and 2-mile ovals, are you doing anything differently with the aero on those type of tracks?
“It’s the same for everybody. You’re trying to shut the guy off behind you. You’re trying to shut his air off. That’s why the blocking is so bad, even at some of these places. The guys out front, they’ll mirror drive wherever the heck you’re going to make sure they shut your air off so you have to get out of the gas and stay out of the gas and lose momentum, and they can get a gap on you so they don’t have to deal with you again. As soon as you sort of lose that lead draft, if you’re not fast enough to catch back up to that guy in front of you, then you just continually seem to lose ground.”
What are your expectations going to Atlanta?
“Atlanta is one of those places where anything can happen and we’ll definitely have to be on our toes there this weekend. You have to have good grip there, you have to have good (tire) fall-off – you have to be fast to start a run, yet you don’t want to fall off more than anybody else. So you have to take care of your stuff and bide your time a little bit. That lends itself to options by the driver to either push hard early (in the run) or save a little and be there late.”
What are your memories of racing at Atlanta?
“I’ve won a few Truck Series races there. That was fun. I won for the first time in an Xfinity race there a few years ago, so that was very cool. I finished second three or four times, so it had been an Achilles heel for me, I guess. The Cup races there, I’ve either been really good or really bad, it seems. There have been times where I’ve been really good throughout the event. I don’t know what it is, but I just can’t seem to keep the grip in my car for the long haul, as long as you need to throughout a run.”
What did you think of the speed at Atlanta the first time you raced there?
“My first time there was 2003 in an Xfinity Series car and it was definitely fast. It’s all relative. You run the same speed around everybody and it really doesn’t feel that fast, so it feels like you do anywhere else, whether you’re at Las Vegas or Chicago or Kansas or any of those places.”
Notes of Interest:
- The Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 will mark Kyle Busch’s 539th career NASCAR Cup Series start and his 22nd NASCAR Cup Series start at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
- Busch has career totals of 56 wins, 32 poles, 202 top-five finishes, 298 top-10s and 17,446 laps led in 538 career Cup Series races. His most recent Cup Series win came in November at Homestead-Miami Speedway, resulting in his second Cup Series championship. Busch’s most recent pole, the 32nd of his career, came in November at Phoenix Raceway.
- Busch has two wins, five top-five finishes and eight top-10s and has led a total of 432 laps in 21 career Cup Series starts at Atlanta. Busch’s average Atlanta finish is14.4.