Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Kyle Busch is 0-for-28 in Cup Series at Charlotte

Kyle Busch is 9/2 to win Coca-Cola 600.
HUNTERSVILLE, North Carolina (May 22, 2018) – The last weekend in May always has special meaning to Americans, for whom it is a time to remember and honor the soldiers who lost their lives while serving in the United States military. 

For race fans, in particular, the weekend is uniquely special in that America’s fallen soldiers are honored in the many festivities surrounding what is widely recognized as the biggest racing weekend of the year. In the United States, the racing day starts at historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway with the iconic Indianapolis 500, and finishes under the lights at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway with the longest race of the Monster Energy NASCAR’s Cup Series – the Coca-Cola 600. 

Not only are they famous and historic racing events, but both host many active duty military and both have traditions that honor soldiers who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. With that, a familiar way of honoring fallen soldiers returns with the NASCAR Salutes program over the summer, beginning with this weekend’s Coca-Cola 600. 

NASCAR Salutes at Charlotte features “600 Miles of Remembrance,” during which each car in the field will carry the name of a fallen soldier on the windshield. Busch has the honor of displaying the name of SGT Eric Toth on his M&M’S Red, White, and Blue Toyota. Toth, a native of Glasgow, Kentucky lost his life in Iraq in March 2005. In addition to honoring a fallen soldier, the No. 18 M&M’S Red, White and Blue Toyota Camry features a patriotic paint scheme itself that celebrates M&M’S Red, White and Blue Mix. 

Busch will look to honor Toth and all fallen soldiers with a strong run in his patriotic scheme, and he’ll be heading into the 13th points race of the season still looking for his first points-paying win at Charlotte. 

Busch actually broke through in the Cup Series at Charlotte in the last year’s non-points All-Star Race for his first Cup Series win of any kind at the 1.5-mile oval. Ever since his childhood in Las Vegas, some of Busch’s favorite race-watching memories came during Charlotte’s iconic Coca-Cola 600 and All-Star Race 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, and he finally accomplished that goal with last year’s All-Star win at Charlotte. 

He now has his sights set on Charlotte’s biggest prize – a Coca-Cola 600 win. In his 28 previous Cup Series starts there over the past 12-plus seasons, Busch has managed to enjoy plenty of success on the oval nicknamed the “Beast of the Southeast” with 11 top-five finishes to go with his 16 overall top-10s. In addition to solid Cup Series finishes, Busch has captured eight NASCAR Xfinity Series wins – May 2004, 2005, 2008 and 2010, October 2008 and 2009, and both May and October 2013. He also has seven NASCAR Camping World Truck Series wins at Charlotte – 2005, 2006, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2014, and 2017. 

So, this Memorial Day weekend, Busch will look to accomplish a career goal – a win at the only track among the 23 on the current Cup Series schedule where he has yet to visit victory lane in a points-paying race, and at the same time honor Toth and all troops who have given the ultimate sacrifice, as well as all those who continue to serve America and the Red, White, and Blue. 

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

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. I’m also really excited about our Red, White, and Blue M&M’S Camry.” 

Beyond just wanting to win the Coca-Cola 600, would simply winning at Charlotte also be a feather in your cap? 
“Winning at Charlotte Motor Speedway, which has been one of my favorite tracks, was really special in last year’s All-Star Race since I’ve tried for a long time. Now that we’ve done that in the All-Star Race, I’m hoping it carries over to the 600 and I can bring home my first Cup points race there. It’s certainly high on my list of what I want to accomplish in this sport. There’s no doubt winning the Coke 600 would be big.” 

You’ve always said that Charlotte is one of your favorite tracks. Is there any particular reason why? 
“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 Xfinity Series has been good to me there. The Truck Series has been pretty good to me there, too. In Cup, I’ve had a lot of good finishes but just haven’t been able to break through there until last year’s All-Star Race in the Cup Series.”

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, Adam Stevens (crew chief) and the guys can bring a really good M&M’S Red, White, and Blue 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 different 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 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.”

If you’re saving your car for the end of the race, is it a struggle for you not to pass during the earlier stages of the 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.”

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