Kyle Busch ready for Pocono 400

Kyle Busch: turning ‘M’ into a ‘W’

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (July 30, 2013) – Just 50 miles separate the headquarters of Mars Chocolate North America and the site of Sunday’s GoBowling.com 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway.

A pre-race visit to the Hackettstown, N.J., headquarters by driver Kyle Busch and his No. 18 M&M’s Toyota team for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) might be just the spark that will help them capture their first-ever win together at Pocono.

Busch will no doubt find plenty of encouragement during the pre-race visit to Mars Chocolate North America. There, the M&M’s driver and the entire No. 18 JGR team will have the opportunity to meet with hundreds of Mars associates, and many of those same associates will travel just down the road to Pocono Sunday to cheer for Busch.

The Las Vegas native has won at 17 of the 23 tracks at which the Sprint Cup Series competes. The only six tracks Busch has failed to reach victory lane in the Sprint Cup Series are: Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway, Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Homestead-Miami Speedway and, of course, Pocono.

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

Photo by: Action Sports Photography

Busch makes it no secret that Pocono has given him fits over the years as he has six top-10 finishes in 17 previous starts there, along with eight finishes of 22nd or worse. But, three of his top-five finishes have come during his last seven outings at the 2.5-mile triangle, and some of his best finishes have come since he joined JGR at the start of the 2008 season.

The M&M’s team will hope to glean some positive vibes from the Mars associates to finally push the racing team over the top at Pocono. This week’s visit will help Busch & Company be “Better with M,” calling upon the latest integrated marketing campaign by M&M’s, which showcases how the company’s irresistible chocolate makes moments more fun and delicious.

So, as the series heads back to the Pocono Mountains for Sunday’s GoBowling.com 400, Busch, crew chief Dave Rogers and the entire M&M’s team will hope they can use some extra motivation from a visit to “M” in order to find victory lane for the first time at Pocono.

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

What are your thoughts on the shorter, 400-mile distance at Pocono?

“I think that’s a positive change. You know, certainly sometimes I felt like it may be a bit long there or drawn out. Now it might add less of a lull during the middle part of the race. So, you’ll have the beginning and people trying to make moves and get themselves in position. Then you’ll have guys working it and getting themselves in position for the final pit stop and the final run, thereafter. Hopefully, we’ll finally get that win at Pocono with our M&M’s Camry.”

Until the last three seasons, Pocono seemed to be a place where you struggled. What changed there to help you be in contention for wins, of late?

“Pocono used to be a place I didn’t look forward to going to but, lately, I’ve been looking forward to it because of Dave Rogers (crew chief). I struggled there and Dave does a really good job of working with our teammates. With Denny (Hamlin) being so good there, we used some of the baseline stuff from his 11 car and tweaked it more to my liking. Denny is still way better than I am there, but Dave, along with everyone on the M&M’s team and JGR, have done a good job of giving me solid racecars and it’s given me more confidence there. We really didn’t get to race the full distance either time there because of mechanical issues, so I’m hoping to get a full race in and see what we are capable of in the second year with this surface.”

How did you like the job they did repaving the track at Pocono?

“The pavement job was great. They did a really nice job. They took out a lot of bumps. There are still a few little bumps in it, which is fine. It’s only going to get worse over time, which is fine. It gives the track character.”

Did the repaving of the track at Pocono improve the racing last year?

“I thought the racing there was kind of the same, not much different. It was a little bit harder to pass because it seems like, when you’re out front in clean air, you have so much more of an advantage than being back in traffic than what it used to be – slightly, not much. To me, it was always a hard, tricky place, but it’s actually finally started becoming a two-lane racetrack in turn three. You could run the bottom and you could run the top with what we call ‘the grip strip.’ Now, it’s all grip, so it’s all back to the bottom again and you can’t really make up much time on the outside, anymore.”

Pocono is the most unique track on the circuit with three distinct corners. What’s the most difficult part of the track for you?

“The hardest part of the track, for me, is probably turn one, and then turn two is the second-hardest, and then turn three is the third-hardest. Turn three, last year, because of the patch they laid down. We couldn’t go down low and get underneath somebody and get a run on them because, when you come off the corner, you’re 8- to 10-mph slower than the guy on your outside, and they’re just going to blow right by you going down the straightaway.”

Since the track is unique, where is the best place to make a pass at Pocono?

“Most of your passing is going to be done probably through turn one and off of turn one and getting into turn two, if somebody can get a good run off of turn two, get back up high and get in line to get on that patch getting into turn three. Besides that, in turn one, we just can’t get the cars to turn down there because there’s so much load on the bump stops from going 210 mph down the front straightaway and then trying to slow it down to about a ‘buck-40’ (140 mph). Turn two is kind of bumpy and kind of rough. There are different areas where you’ve got to maneuver through the tunnel turn to get your car right. If you miss it just by a little bit, you tend to knock the wall down off the corner, so it’s tight.”

Joe Gibbs Racing

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Tags 400, 2013, cup series, joe gibbs racing, kyle busch, pocono