With just four races left in the season, and the series kicking off the eight-driver Eliminator Round of the 2015 Chase at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway this weekend, “Win and You’re In” takes on a whole new meaning.
For Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’S Crispy Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), winning any of the next three events guarantees he will be one of the four drivers advancing to the winner-take-all finale Nov. 22 at Homestead-Miami Speedway that will decide this year’s Sprint Cup champion.
All season long, Busch and his M&M’S Crispy team have not been ones to back down from a challenge. After missing the first 11 Sprint Cup races because of injury, Busch stormed back, winning four races over the summer months and climbing his way into the top-30 in the driver standings in order to make this year’s Chase. He was able to slip through the first two playoff rounds, most recently avoiding the “Big One” at Sunday’s elimination race at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway to escape what he felt was an excruciatingly challenging Contender Round of the Chase for he and his race team.
Now that he’s made it to the final eight, Busch feels he has just as good a shot as anyone to vie for his first Sprint Cup title at Homestead. The quest continues with Sunday’s Goody’s Headache Relief Shot 500 at Martinsville. The .526-mile paperclip-shaped short track in southern Virginia hasn’t always been a track where Busch has felt comfortable, but that’s changed in recent years thanks to plenty of help from his JGR teammates, along with fast cars provided by the Huntersville, North Carolina operation.
Of the 23 venues that host Sprint Cup events in 2015, Busch has won at least once at 21 of those venues in at least one of NASCAR’s top three divisions – Sprint Cup, Xfinity and Camping World Truck. There are only two current Sprint Cup tracks – Pocono (Pa.) Raceway and Martinsville – where Busch has not scored a victory in any of NASCAR’s top three series.
However, despite the lack of a Martinsville’s exclusive grandfather clock trophy in his vast collection, Busch has plenty of reasons for optimism this weekend as his M&M’S Crispy team keeps getting closer and closer to that elusive win with each return. Even though there is still a blank in the Martinsville win column, Busch’s resume at the track now includes eight top-five finishes and nine top-10s in his 20 Sprint Cup starts there.
So as the season heads into the homestretch, Busch and the M&M’S Crispy team know that when it comes to being championship eligible at Homestead, it’s as simple as “Win and You’re In,” and it all starts Sunday at Martinsville.