Kyle Busch looks to finally win at Charlotte

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Joe Gibbs Racing

KYLE BUSCH
Hoping To Break Through with Red, White and Blue

Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota

Photo by: Action Sports Photography

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (May 22, 2012) – Kyle Busch has 24 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series wins to his credit at 16 different venues.

Ironically enough, the driver of the No. 18 M&M’s Red, White and Blue Toyota has yet to win at the racetrack he considers his absolute favorite, where he’ll make his career-high 17th start in Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 – Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway.

The special Red, White and Blue M&M’S paint scheme Busch will sport for NASCAR’s traditional Memorial Day Weekend marathon event is in support of the limited-edition Red, White and Blue-only bags of M&M’S now in stores. The new patriotic blend is designed to be the perfect snack for fans during the summer holidays of Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day. Busch will also carry the patriotic scheme in late June at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta in lead-up to the Fourth of July to be celebrated the following week.

When he takes the green flag Sunday evening in his M&M’s Red, White and Blue colors, Busch will have two more starts at the 1.5-mile oval than any other track. Next-most is his 15 Sprint Cup starts at seven different racetracks, including Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale, Ariz., Richmond (Va.) International Raceway, and Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. Experience seems to go a long way for Busch as he’s won at all but one of those seven racetracks (Martinsville) where he’s posted 15 career starts. The talented 27-year-old has combined for 13 of his 24 Sprint Cup wins at those seven tracks.

Ever since his childhood in Las Vegas, some of Busch’s favorite race-watching memories came during Charlotte’s traditional All-Star Race and Coca-Cola 600 during the month of May. He dreamed that one day he, too, could be the one hoisting the trophy at one of stock-car racing’s most hallowed grounds.

In his 16 previous Sprint Cup starts at Charlotte over the past eight-plus seasons, Busch has managed to enjoy plenty of success on the 1.5-mile oval nicknamed the “Beast of the Southeast.” He’s currently riding a streak of nine top-10 finishes during the last 11 points-paying races there, dating back to October 2006. In addition to solid Sprint Cup finishes, Busch has captured six NASCAR Nationwide Series wins, including four of the last eight (May 2004, 2005 and 2008, October 2008 and 2009, and May 2010) and four NASCAR Camping World Truck Series wins (2005, 2006, 2010, and 2011).

Of course, while those nine Sprint Cup top-10s and 10 combined Nationwide and Truck Series wins at Charlotte are certainly something to be proud of for Busch, there’s still that childhood dream to fulfill.

So this weekend, decked out in his Red, White and Blue M&M’s livery, Busch will attempt to finally break through at Charlotte and secure the long-awaited first win at his favorite track, and in one of NASCAR’s crown jewel events.

KYLE BUSCH, Driver of the No. 18 M&M’s Red, White and Blue Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:

You’ve won at 16 different racetracks in the Sprint Cup Series. How badly do you want to win the Coca-Cola 600 and a Sprint Cup race at Charlotte?

“Winning at Charlotte Motor Speedway, since it’s my favorite track, would be really special since I’ve been able to win there in other series and have been close a lot in the Cup car. It seems like the month of May at Charlotte just hasn’t liked me too much. We got to win (last week’s) Truck Series race and the Nationwide race last spring, so I’m hoping we can add to that this weekend and finally get a Sprint Cup win. There are plenty of other tracks we need to win at, too, but there’s no doubt a Charlotte win would be big with the Red, White, and Blue colors on our M&M’s Camry.”

What are the challenges of racing at Charlotte?

“I think the biggest challenge about Charlotte is how much the track changes from practice. You practice all during the day and then you go into night racing. You’ve got to know what kind of adjustments to make to your car and how well you can race at night. Typically, you go back to your night notes. For us, we’ve run well there in the past and like going there. It’s a fun place to race and adds to the excitement of spending some time at home.”

Does Sunday’s 600-mile race feel different than other events?

“It depends on what kind of car you have. I’ve been in races in the 600-mile race where it’s felt really easy and short, and I’ve been in races where it’s been a long, drawn-out, knock ’em, sock ’em kind of day. Hopefully, Dave Rogers (crew chief) and the guys can bring a really good M&M’s Camry for me this weekend and it will be a smooth race for us. I like running the 600 miles. I think it brings a new aspect to our sport – its longevity. People will say, ‘It’s too long. It’s boring. Whatever.’ Well, you know, it’s a part of the product and the history that we’ve had here on Memorial Day weekend for a long time that you run that extra hundred miles. And car preparation goes into that. Will your car make it? Will your engine last? Are the drivers able to be competitive throughout the whole race? You’ll have fatigue, sometimes, even at a 500-mile race. So, if you don’t show signs of weakness, you should be pretty good.”

You’ve said in the past that Charlotte is your favorite track. Is there any particular reason why?

“Charlotte is my favorite racetrack for a lot of reasons. Just growing up watching races on TV, I loved watching the All-Star Race under the lights and the 600 with all the sparks flying and all the guys going after hard-fought, hard-racing wins. The Nationwide Series has been good to me there. The Truck Series has been pretty good to me there, too. But a Cup Series win has eluded me there. We’re definitely getting closer than I was back when I first started racing at Charlotte. I think I have something like eight top-10 finishes in my last 10 races going into this weekend, so I hope my luck is turning around a bit and I can finally get that Sprint Cup win there. We’ve been very close the last couple of years.”

If you’re saving your car for the end of the race, is it a struggle for you not to pass during the course of this long, 600-mile event?

“Yeah, you want to race those guys who are around you all of the time. You think to yourself, ‘There’s a car in front of me. I want to pass that guy.’ That’s what’s in your blood to do. Sometimes, you’ve just got to back off a little bit and kind of let the race play out. You’ve got to get to the end of the final pit stop. Once you get to the final pit stop, then the race is on. That’s kind of the way it works out. Charlotte can suck you in and it can suck you in pretty easily – into the wall, I mean.”

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Series NASCAR-CUP
Tags busch, gibbs, toyota