|Kyle Busch is 8/1 to win Sunday at Las Vegas.|
Las Vegas native Kyle Busch crossed off an all-important hometown win in just his fifth NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start at his hometown Las Vegas Motor Speedway, site of Sunday’s Kobalt 400.
The driver of the No. 18 M&M’S Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) and 2002 honors graduate of Las Vegas’ Durango High School would like to double his number of Sprint Cup wins at the 1.5-mile oval after he brought home that emotional first win there in 2009.
Driving the yellow M&M’S Toyota that day, Busch qualified on the pole but was forced to start at the rear of the field because the team needed to change engines during Friday practice. Unfazed, Busch remained patient on race day as he and the M&M’S team worked their way to the front of the field by the 54th lap. Busch went on to lead three times for 51 laps en route to claiming what he called at the time the biggest win of his young career.
While that win was special, Busch already was no stranger to winning on Las Vegas Motor Speedway property. From 1999 to 2001, he earned more than 65 wins in Legends cars while racking up two track championships at the facility’s “Bullring,” which existed for several years before the 1.5-mile oval was built. Busch eventually moved up to Late Model Stock cars and his winning ways continued as he captured 10 victories in Late Model competition at the Bullring in 2001.
In addition to celebrations at the Bullring and the aforementioned 2009 Sprint Cup win in his hometown, Busch is also returning to the site of the official celebration of his 2015 Sprint Cup championship, which took place in Las Vegas last December. With the M&M’S brand also celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2016, there’s no reason why the party shouldn’t continue in LVMS’s victory lane this weekend.
And not to be outdone, Mars brand Ethel M Chocolate, which has a factory and store located in nearby Henderson, Nevada, will also get into the act this weekend. Not only will Ethel M have its logo adorn the rear decklid of the M&M’S Toyota, it will also debut the Kyle Busch Chocolate Collection in honor of Busch’s return to his hometown.
The Kyle Busch Chocolate Collection is a limited, 16-piece chocolate assortment featuring Busch’s favorite Ethel M specialties. Wrapped in custom NASCAR-branded packaging, the collection is available for fans to purchase online at www.ethelm.com, and at Ethel M locations, including its factory store in Henderson, McCarran Airport Boutique, and at M&M’S World® on Las Vegas Boulevard.
So as Busch returns to Las Vegas this weekend, the only thing that will be sweeter than winning his first Sprint Cup race there would be winning a second so he and his sponsor can keep the Las Vegas celebrations going even longer.
KYLE BUSCH, Driver of the No. 18 M&M’S Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:
With two third-place finishes to start the season, what are your thoughts heading back to Las Vegas this weekend?
“It’s much different than Atlanta last weekend, even though both tracks are the same size. Vegas is really grippy with the tire being a little harder compound and you’ve got really good speed, but then in the race it gets sunny and can get loose and slick. Once you get your car handling good, you still have a lot of speed and don’t fall off at places like Atlanta and Texas. I was fortunate enough to win there in 2009, but we haven’t run to my liking there overall, so I’m hoping we can have a strong run there this weekend with our M&M’S Camry and keep the M&M’S 75th anniversary year rolling. It’s also a big race for Ethel M Chocolate from the area, too, so I’m hoping we can give everyone something to cheer for this weekend, especially since I wasn’t able to race there last year because of my injury.”
Is there more pressure racing at your hometown track?
“Yeah, Vegas always means a little bit more pressure – more pressure on myself – just because it’s the hometown and you want to win there. Thankfully, I have won there and I’ve knocked that one off the list, but certainly you want to win there every year. It seems like either Carl (Edwards) or Jimmie (Johnson) are better than most there, but I love Vegas, the atmosphere and everything going on around that place. It’s always been a big race for us and the M&M’S team.”
What was it like to bring home a Sprint Cup win in your hometown in 2009?
“It was cool. To go out there and to run a smooth race and to have a shot at winning at the end of the race, that’s what it’s all about. I watched Vegas being built from the ground up, and I remember when it wasn’t anything but a gleam in the eye of Richie Clyne (founder of Las Vegas Motor Speedway) – all those guys who made that place happen.”
Having grown up in Las Vegas, do you still have a lot of friends in the area? Do you get a lot of ticket requests from friends and family?
“I get a lot of ticket requests for California, Vegas and Phoenix – all the West Coast stops that we run. It’s kind of hard to fulfill all of them, but we try when we can. We get to go to M&M’S World on the (Las Vegas) Strip to sign some autographs on Thursday, so I’m looking forward to seeing some of the hometown fans there, as well.”
Are you able to enjoy trips to your hometown?
“It’s fine going back there. There’s really not much family out there. It’s just family friends. There are a lot of friends you get to see and catch up with that you text back-and-forth or talk back-and-forth with during the year, but you never get to see them, so that’s always cool to go out there to the race. Besides that, there are the different appearances we do for M&M’S. You get to go to some of the restaurants that you liked there growing up, so that’s always cool. It’s just another weekend, but I particularly know my way around this city better than I do any other place.”
What is your fondest racing memory of growing up in Las Vegas?
“My fondest racing memory is probably my first Late Model race. I started about eighth or 10th and ended up winning it. My first-ever start, I won. So that is definitely a great memory to have.”
Round 3 of 36 – Kobalt 400 – Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Car No.: 18 – M&M’S Toyota Camry
Teammates: Denny Hamlin – No. 11 FedEx Toyota Camry; Carl Edwards – No. 19 ARRIS Toyota Camry;
Matt Kenseth – No. 20 Dollar General Toyota Camry.
Notes of Interest:
The Kobalt 400 will mark Kyle Busch’s 393rd career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start and his 12th Sprint Cup start at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Busch has career totals of 34 wins, 17 poles, 132 top-fives, 196 top-10s and 10,998 laps led in 392 career Sprint Cup races. His most recent Sprint Cup win came three races ago in last year’s season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, clinching his first Sprint Cup championship. Busch notched his most recent pole position 18 races ago at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway.
Busch has one win, four top-five finishes and five top-10s and has led a total of 192 laps in 11 career Sprint Cup starts at Las Vegas. Busch’s average Las Vegas finish is 14.4.
M&M’S 75th: Along with its stature as a primary sponsor of defending NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Kyle Busch, the M&M’S brand is celebrating the 75th anniversary of M&M’S with a special paint scheme to recognize the milestone during the 2016 season. Part of the celebration includes the return of the iconic yellow No. 18 M&M’S Toyota.
What’s your sign? Busch will sign autographs for fans from 5 to 7 p.m. PST Thursday at the M&M’S World location on Las Vegas Boulevard as the brand continues its 75th anniversary celebration.
The record books show Busch won the 2009 Shelby 427, his first win at his hometown track, from the pole. But, because of an engine change during the Friday practice session, Busch had to do it by starting at the rear of the field and storming to the front. It was an emotional win in the city where he grew up.
Home Sweet Home: From 1999 to 2001, Busch earned more than 65 wins in Legends cars while racking up two track championships at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway “Bullring” before moving up to Late Model Stock cars. Winning seemed to come naturally no matter what Busch drove as he captured 10 victories in Late Model competition at the Bullring in 2001.
In 2002, Busch graduated with honors from Durango High School in Las Vegas – one year ahead of schedule.
Driver Training: In 2001, at age 16, Busch made his debut at Las Vegas with a solid ninth in the Orleans 350 Camping World Truck Series race.
34 Career Sprint Cup Wins: With his Sprint Cup win at Homestead last season, the 34th of his career, Busch sits 21st on the all-time Sprint Cup win list.
155 and Counting: Busch enters Las Vegas with 155 career wins among NASCAR’s top three divisions – Sprint Cup (34), Xfinity (77) and Truck (44) – after winning the Xfinity Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway last weekend.
- True Speed Communication for M&M’s Racing