So after a potential third-place run turned into a 36th-place finish late in the running of last Sunday’s FedEx 400 at Dover (Del.) International Speedway through no fault of their own, Busch and Stevens will do what they’ve been doing all year long – roll up their sleeves and keep bringing fast cars to the racetrack just like they have the first three weeks since Busch returned from injury.
As the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to the mountains of Pennsylvania for Sunday’s Axalta “We Paint Winners” 400 at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway, Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’s Crispy Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), will no doubt keep showing the determination that helped him recover from a broken leg and foot to return just three months later.
This weekend’s race at the track known as the “Tricky Triangle” is the first of two races at Pocono in an eight-week span and signals the beginning of the summer stretch of races. Busch and the M&M’s Crispy team will keep focusing on what is ahead of them, particularly the next three races at Pocono, Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, and Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway.
While Pocono has been difficult for Busch to master over the years, he seemed to have turned the corner in June 2011 when he started from the pole for the first time there and was beaten across the finish line only by teammate and Pocono master Denny Hamlin, who has four Pocono wins to his credit. In August 2011, Busch led 27 laps late in the race before equaling his career-best Pocono finish of second behind race-winner Brad Keselowski. The Las Vegas native brought home top-10 finishes in both 2013 races at Pocono but suffered a rough 2014 there, so it goes without saying that Busch and the M&M’s Crispy team are striving for even bigger things at the 2.5-mile track this weekend.
While Busch and the M&M’s Crispy team have come so very close to a Pocono win, it remains one of three tracks Busch has not captured a win in any of NASCAR’s top series. Martinsville (Va.) Speedway and Indianapolis Motor Speedway are the others. Of the 28 tracks that will host NASCAR’s top three divisions in 2015, Busch has competed at every circuit but Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, and he has won at 25 of them. He’s hoping a few things finally fall his way and he can add a 26th track this weekend.
As the series heads back to the Pocono Mountains this weekend, Busch, Stevens and the entire M&M’s Crispy team will no doubt keep up their fierce determination during the upcoming stretch of races. They’ve already shown in just 13 races thus far that they are tough enough to handle just about anything.