While Kyle Busch will sport his familiar yellow M&M’S Toyota this Saturday night during the non-points NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway, his number won’t be quite as familiar.
Busch will set aside the familiar No. 18 for just one race only to make way for No. 75 in honor of M&M’S 75th anniversary celebration. The one-time number change will be only the fourth different number Busch has used in his more than 400 races as a Sprint Cup Series driver. In addition to the No. 18 he has sported since 2008 with Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), Busch also used No. 5 from 2005 to 2007 in his first three full-time seasons with Hendrick Motorsports and, for a brief time, he also used the No. 84 in six starts for Hendrick during the 2004 season.
With the No. 75 adorning the side of his M&M’S Toyota this weekend, Busch has his sights set on winning his first All-Star Race this Saturday night in the $1 million-to-win non-points event. With another “home game” at Charlotte the following weekend, Busch will have the opportunity to bring home his first Sprint Cup victory there to add to his eight NASCAR Xfinity Series and six NASCAR Camping World Truck Series wins at the track, that is just a stone’s throw from home base for most of the sport’s race teams.
Along with the special number to celebrate M&M’S 75th anniversary, the week also marks a couple of other anniversaries for Busch. It was this very race a year ago where Busch began his return to racing after recovering from injuries sustained in February 2015 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. His sixth-place finish in the 2015 All-Star Race started a dream 365 days for Busch and his family. Two days after his return to racing at the All-Star race, on May 18, Busch and wife Samantha welcomed their first child to the world, Brexton, who will celebrate his first birthday Wednesday.
The rest of 2015 and thus far in 2016, Busch may well feel he’s living out something from a Hollywood script. He was able to rally to become eligible for the Chase for the Sprint Cup playoffs and went on to score his first Sprint Cup in November. Along with way, Busch has also been able to score landmark wins in NASCAR’s top series in 2015 and 2016. He brought home his first Sprint Cup win in the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway last July, followed by his first Sprint Cup win at Homestead-Miami Speedway, which secured the Sprint Cup title. Thus far this season, Busch captured the victory at more places that have eluded him for years, crossing Martinsville (Va.) Speedway and Kansas Speedway in Kansas City off his yet-to-win list.
Saturday night, it’s another non-points race that seems to be tailor-made for the driver of the No. 75 M&M’S Toyota for JGR. The Las Vegas native first left his non-points-race mark on the 2009 edition of the Sprint All-Star Race. NASCAR first instituted short-track-style, double-file restarts for just the All-Star Race that year. After Busch pulled off several bold moves that helped inject plenty of excitement into the race, it prompted NASCAR to go ahead and institute the double-file restart rule permanently for its top three series beginning at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway just three weeks later.
Also this weekend, fans can continue to share their favorite M&M’S racing memory on lap 75 of the All-Star Race, just like they can for every M&M’S® NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, using the hashtag #MMS75 in their social media posts. Fans who also include the hashtag #contest will be eligible to win M&M’S Racing gear.
So, as Busch views Saturday’s non-points-paying All-Star Race as his annual opportunity to throw patience out the window at his own discretion, he also knows an All-Star Race win is certainly higher up on his career bucket list. With all that he’s accomplished in the past year, it would be difficult to count him out.