Finding a ‘Nose’ for Victory at Kansas
HUNTERSVILLE, North Carolina (May 9, 2017) – One year ago this weekend,
Kyle Busch finally found his “nose” for victory at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City. A look at his last eight starts on the 1.5-mile oval shows the last four starts there were quite the opposite of his four previous starts.
Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’S Red Nose Day Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), heads to Kansas as the defending race winner of Saturday night’s NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series Go Bowling 400, where things didn’t always go nearly as well as his race there one year ago.
The 1.5-mile oval built in 2001, which originally featured a constant 15 degrees of banking in the turns, underwent a massive renovation project leading into its October 2012 Cup Series event. The changes included repaving of the existing track surface, reconfiguration of the oval, and the addition of a new infield road course. The oval’s geometric shape also was changed to feature variable banking of 17 to 20 degrees in the turns.
To say that Busch didn’t take well to the new surface would be quite the understatement. From October 2012 to 2013, Busch had three consecutive DNFs (Did Not Finish) there, with accidents ending his day each time, for final
results of 31st, 38th and 34th.
Feeling snake bit on the new Kansas surface, Busch and his M&M’S team took a different approach starting with the April 2014 race by starting from scratch with a brand new car. They attacked the track in the Heartland of America with the hopes that a fresh outlook would produce vastly different results. While a pit-road speeding penalty cost them precious track position and an even better finish in the race, the result and effort was much different than the three previous trips. Instead, they were competitive enough to turn the corner in terms of results.
In the October 2014 Cup Series race, Busch brought home his first ever top-five finish at Kansas. Anyone who has ever followed Busch’s career knows the 2015 Cup Series champion never cared much for moral victories. However, the momentum carried over from his first top-five at Kansas in October 2014 has remained to this day. So much so that, last May, Busch was able to bring home his first Cup Series win at the 1.5-mile oval – in the special M&M’S Red nose day scheme, no less – and follow it up with another top-five finish in the fall race. Finally, with the surface starting to wear, Kansas has become a place much more agreeable to Busch’s driving style.
For the third year in a row, M&M’S is partnering with Red Nose Day to encourage Americans to come together and get their #NosesOn to help end child poverty. M&M’S will once again donate more than $1 million to the Red Nose Day Fund to support programs that ensure children in need are safe, healthy and educated, both in the United States and around the world. In addition, this year’s Red Nose Day race broadcast will feature a new 60-second spot from M&M’S, showing the pride and passion of associates at Mars and that their dedication to bringing smiles to children in need goes above and beyond making chocolate candies. To learn more about M&M’S Red Nose Day efforts, follow the M&M’S social channels and check out hashtag #NosesOn.
To join in on the Red Nose Day fun, Busch and his No. 18 M&M’S Toyota will feature the aforementioned special Red Nose Day paint scheme in Saturday night’s race. And Busch and his car won’t be the only ones at Kansas donning Red Noses for the cause as M&M’S will provide attendees at Saturday night’s pre-race festivities with their own Red Nose. Busch will also have some fun with fans by being part of a #NosesOn super selfie after a special Red Nose Day fan Q&A.
So, as the Cup Series heads to Kansas for Saturday’s race under the lights, Busch hopes his newly found success at Kansas helps him bring home his fifth consecutive top-five and his second career Cup Series wins in the Heartland of America.
KYLE BUSCH, Driver of the No. 18 M&M’S Red Nose Day Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:
What did it mean to win at yet another track for the first time in the Cup Series when you were able to cross Kansas off the list last year?
“Until recently, I’ve not had very many opportunities to win at Kansas and hopefully get into victory lane there again this weekend with our M&M’S Red Nose Day Toyota. I’m excited about that opportunity and working with this team of guys and (crew chief) Adam Stevens and everybody he has assembled. It’s so much fun. As you’ve seen so far this year, there are certain
circumstances that can go against you, and you just have to persevere and keep fighting until the checkered flag falls. When you run well, those wins will eventually come, as frustrating as it’s been so far this season.”
You won at Kansas last May after all the trouble and so many close calls and so much bad luck. Does it help the confidence at all for you guys going in there and knowing that you finally hit on something there?
“It certainly did. We have had some good teammates to lean on and we used (Matt) Kenseth’s notes prior to last year to help us a bit, and that’s really made a difference there. Normally, in years past, I probably wouldn’t say those words but, you know, it’s actually not been a bad place for us there, recently. We’ve had a good string of top-fives so, hopefully, we can go there and have another good, solid run, have a good finish, and the biggest thing for us is to just don’t beat ourselves right now. Don’t make the mistakes that some of these other guys did, try to keep our nose clean. And, if there’s a win, great, get it, and if not, get what you can get – third, fourth, fifth, whatever it can be.”
Kansas had been a frustrating place for you during your career, but have you and your team turned the corner there with four top-five finishes in a row there?
“I think so. We ran third there in the fall of 2014. I wasn’t there in the spring race of 2015 since that was the last race I was recovering from my injury, but (Erik) Jones ran up front until he ended up wrecking. Last fall, Adam (Stevens) and the M&M’S guys did an awesome job and we ran top-five again. The last few races there, the track really has started to change and the groove is starting to spread out, and it makes me more comfortable when a track gets worn in. Adam and the guys have been bringing really good racecars to the track every weekend and, when you have great cars and run up front, good things are going to happen.”
Are you doing anything different in the racecar now, compared to earlier in your career?
“I wouldn’t say necessarily that I’m doing anything different. Certainly, I think that circumstances are going our way maybe a little bit more. Why? I’m not sure. I’ve just had some really fast racecars. The guys have been doing a great job at Joe Gibbs Racing, both on the Xfinity side and the Cup side. Overall, I think there are some things still for me to learn over the years that maybe I’m not quite as good at that I could be better at, just different racetracks and being able to run well at different times or different aspects. Charlotte for instance – haven’t won there – Pocono, and places like that, I feel like we can go each and every week and have a legitimate chance to win each and every week. We just would like to finish one of these off this year and get to victory lane.”
M&M’S Red Nose Day Racing
Race 11 of 36 – Go Bowling 400 – Kansas
Car No.: 18 – M&M’S Red Nose Day Toyota Camry
Teammates: Denny Hamlin – No. 11 Toyota Camry; Daniel Suarez – No. 19
Toyota Camry; Matt Kenseth – No. 20 Toyota Camry.
Primary Team Members:
Driver: Kyle Busch
Hometown: Las Vegas
Crew Chief: Adam Stevens
Hometown: Portsmouth, Ohio
Car Chief: Nate Bellows
Hometown: Fairfax, Vermont
Race Engineer: Ben Beshore
Hometown: Hometown York, Pennsylvania
Engine Specialist: Mike Johnson
Hometown: Bozeman, Montana
Spotter: Tony Hirschman
Hometown: Northampton, Pennsylvania
Over-The-Wall Crew Members:
Gas Man: Tom Lampe
Hometown: Beatrice, Nebraska
Front Tire Changer: Josh Leslie
Hometown: Mount Clemens, Michigan
Jackman: TJ Ford
Hometown: Charlotte, North Carolina
Front Tire Carrier: Brad Donaghy
Hometown: Orange County, Virginia
Rear Tire Carrier: Kenny Barber
Hometown: Hoosick Falls, New York
Rear Tire Changer: Jake Seminara
Hometown: Steubenville, Ohio
Pit Support: Marcus Bonicelli
Hometown: Colorado Springs, Colorado
Pit Support: Jeff Koons
Hometown: Greenfield, Indiana
Road Crew Members:
Truck Drivers: Brendan Greene and Jamie Price
Hometowns: Midland, North Carolina, and Choteau, Montana, respectively
Tire Specialist: Jon Desrocher
Hometown: Plattsburgh, New York
Interior Mechanic: Wesley Lape
Hometown: Sinking Spring, Pennsylvania
Race Engineer: Tyler Allen
Hometown: Seattle, Washington
Ride and Handling Engineer: Chris Chase
Hometown: Nichols, New York
Rear End Mechanic: Chris Jones
Hometown: Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia
Mechanic: Todd Foster
Hometown: Birmingham, Alabama
Front End Mechanic: Brandon Griffeth
Hometown: Pittsfield, Illinois
Notes of Interest:
* The Go Bowling 400 will mark Kyle Busch’s 437th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start and his 19th NASCAR Cup Series start at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City.
* Busch has career totals of 38 wins, 19 poles, 150 top-five finishes, 223 top-10s and 12,818 laps led in 436 career Cup Series races. His most recent Cup Series win came in July 2016 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, when he brought home his second consecutive win at the historic 2.5-mile oval. Busch’s win came from the pole position, his most recent pole and the 19th of his career.
* Busch has one win, four top-five finishes and six top-10s and has led a total of 156 laps in 18 career Cup Series starts at Kansas. Busch’s average Kansas finish is 18.4.
* 38 Career Cup Series Wins: With his Cup Series win at Indianapolis last July, the 38th of his career, Busch is tied for 19th on the all-time Cup Series win list with Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) teammate Matt Kenseth.
* Trimming the List: With wins at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway and Kansas added to the list last season, Busch has won Cup Series races at 21 of the 23 tracks at which the series competes. The only two tracks he has yet to conquer in the Cup Series are Pocono (Pa) Raceway and Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway. During his 2015 Cup Series championship season, Busch checked off Indianapolis and Homestead-Miami Speedway. Four of Busch’s last six Cup Series wins have been his first at each track in NASCAR’s top series (Indianapolis, Homestead, Martinsville and Kansas). Of the 21 different tracks where Busch has won, he has multiple wins at 11 of them.
* All-Time JGR Wins Leader: With his Brickyard 400 last July, Busch passed three-time Cup Series champion Tony Stewart for most all-time Cup Series wins for JGR. Busch now has 34 wins for JGR to Stewart’s 33.
* 170 and Counting: Busch enters Kansas with 170 career wins among NASCAR’s top three divisions – Cup (38), Xfinity (87) and Truck (46) following his NASCAR Xfinity Series win earlier this season at Atlanta Motor Speedway.