HUNTERSVILLE, North Carolina (June 4, 2019) – If there’s one driver in NASCAR’s top series who knows all about the taste of victory, it’s Kyle Busch.
The driver of the No. 18 M&M’S Hazelnut Spread Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) didn’t take long to taste the new M&M’S Hazelnut Spread in victory lane, scoring a win in just the second race with the popular new product from M&M’S adorning his No. 18 Toyota Camry last weekend at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway.
It was his 55th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win that not only tied him with NASCAR Hall of Famer Rusty Wallace for ninth on the all-time Cup Series win list, but also made Busch the winningest driver of the decade with 39 wins, which is three more than seven-time Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson. And last but not least, Busch’s series-high fourth win of the season came in the backyard of Mars Wrigley Confectionery headquarters in nearby Hackettstown, New Jersey.
While Pocono was a great weekend for M&M’S Hazelnut Spread, Busch and his team will quickly switch gears to this weekend as the series heads to the 2-mile Michigan International Speedway oval in Brooklyn for Sunday’s FireKeepers Casino 400 at the track located approximately 80 miles southwest of Detroit.
Busch won at Michigan in August 2011 for his first Cup Series triumph there. However, the track was repaved prior to the 2012 season and, while he scored a solid fourth-place finish on the new surface in June 2013, he has not had the results to match his high standards since. However, the 2018 stops on the blazing fast Michigan circuit that netted finishes of fourth and third in the June and August races, respectively, got Busch closer to what he looks for week in and week out.
Despite Busch’s sometimes tough luck at Michigan in recent years, he’s had no such thing during the 14 races contested elsewhere in NASCAR’s top series thus far in 2019. His four victories highlight his impressive eight top-five finishes and 13-top-10s, and he’s led 763 laps just past the halfway point in the Cup Series regular season.
So, as Busch and the M&M’s Hazelnut Spread team head to the Upper Midwest this weekend, they hope to taste M&M’S Hazelnut Spread in victory lane yet again after bringing home his second career Cup Series victory in the Irish Hills of Michigan.
KYLE BUSCH, Driver of the No. 18 M&M'S Hazelnut Spread Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:
You brought home two top-five finishes at Michigan last summer. What do you expect this weekend?
“I’m not entirely sure. We’ll just go into the weekend like we always do – keep working on our car to be the best it can be in practice on Friday and hope we have a shot to get back to victory lane there. We had a lot of struggles on the repave but turned that around a bit last year. Our whole team has shown how well we’ve worked together and Adam (Stevens, crew chief) has been able to make the right calls, so I’m looking forward to seeing what he has in store for me at Michigan this weekend. I’m hoping Michigan will be at least a little bit more worn in than when we were there last August. I’m looking forward to getting out there in practice and seeing what we can learn with our M&M’S Hazelnut Spread Camry. The blue Hazelnut Spread colors seems to be good luck for us, already, so we hope we can keep that going this week, and then at Sonoma after the off weekend, as well.”
What is it about Adam Stevens that you’re able to work so well with him and how you’ve developed such good chemistry?
“When Adam and I were slated to work together on the Xfinity side, I was really excited to work with him. I knew that him and (Joey) Logano kind of had this bit of chemistry that really worked well for them, and I wasn’t sure that I would fit into the mold. He’s got a definite fire and drive to him, as well, and a passion like mine. It’s just the amount of dedication and the amount of drive that he and I both share, I think, is what makes us so strong. A lot of different guys have a lot of different ways to go about their business. I think Rodney Childers (Kevin Harvick’s crew chief) is very unique in the way he goes about his business. It’s very chill and yet they get the job done very well. Adam and myself, we tend to look pretty good sometimes at being able to do our job well, and I’ll be mad one day and he’ll be talking to me about why I’m mad, and then he’ll be mad another day and I’ll be asking him about why he’s mad. We kind of fit within each other a little bit and definitely feed off each other and push each other to continue to be stronger and be better.”
Do you expect the track surface to be worn in a little bit more this year?
“I expect it to be fast, still. There’s still a lot of grip, but I’m hoping it’s starting to get worn in like Kansas did. But if you’re just a little bit loose there, now you’re nervous that just any little bit of getting outside the groove or having a little bit too much yaw will lead to a wreck, like it has in the past. You are hauling there now in the turns, for sure, and we know that corner speeds are up overall this year at other places.”
With Father’s Day coming up next weekend, how instrumental was your father in your racing career, and who else helped you along the way to get you to where you are today?
“Obviously, my father – he’s probably number one. He and my mom just taking all of their resources and money and everything to help Kurt (Busch, brother) and I get farther along in our careers in Las Vegas through Dwarf cars, Legends cars, Modifieds, whatever it was. Modifieds was about as far as we could go as a family – that was all we could afford. Then, past that was Jerry Spilsbury – he used to own an air conditioning company back in Las Vegas and he had a Late Model team out at the speedway the year before I ran. It was a one-car team and then, the year I ran, we actually became a three-car team. So it was Jerry himself, and then another guy named Billy Newman, and then myself who raced those cars that year. I think I finished third in the championship. I missed the first two races of the year because I wasn’t 16, yet. My birthday wasn’t until May. And then I had to miss another race when I ran out of gas in Chicago in the Camping World Truck Series race that day and we tried to fly back, but we couldn’t get out because of the weather in Chicago, so we couldn’t make that race that night. So I missed three and still finished third in points. I think Billy was second. We had a good year that year, but Jerry spent a lot of money, employed my father and just allowed me to succeed in winning 10 of 15 Late Model races that year – we finished second in three, third once and broke a rear-end gear in the other one while leading. We were plenty fast and, through racing that car that year, I think a lot of people took notice that Kurt Busch’s little brother back in Vegas was pretty good, and that’s all history, now.”
Notes of Interest:
- The FireKeepers Casino 400 will mark Kyle Busch’s 513th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start and his 29th NASCAR Cup Series start at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn.
- Busch has career totals of 55 wins, 31 poles, 191 top-five finishes, 282 top-10s and 16,613 laps led in 512 career Cup Series races. His most recent Cup Series win came last weekend at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway. Busch’s most recent pole, the 30th of his career, came in October at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.
- Busch has one win, six top-five finishes and 10 top-10s and has led a total of 255 laps in 28 Cup Series starts at Michigan. Busch’s average Michigan finish is 18.4.
- 55 Career Cup Series Wins: With his Cup Series win at Pocono, the 55th points-paying win of his career, Busch sits tied for ninth all-time in Cup Series wins with NASCAR Hall of Famer Rusty Wallace. With his 40th Cup Series victory at Bristol 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.