One year later, Kyle Busch and his M&M’S team head back to the site of a memorable weekend in 2016, when he brought home not one, but two of the traditional grandfather clocks as winner of both the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.
The weekend was memorable for more than just the sweep of the weekend races, as Busch brought home his first two wins of any kind at the .526-mile paperclip-shaped oval. After 21 trips there without a win, Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’S Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) finally found victory lane and the long sought-after grandfather clock trophy.
Even though celebrating his first Martinsville win was a huge accomplishment for Busch, what would happen on the ride home from Martinsville even got more attention. Martinsville, Virginia is located a little over two hours from where most of the teams and drivers are based in the Charlotte, North Carolina area.
Thus, drivers and teams tend to commute back and forth for the race weekend. As Busch and wife Samantha drove back toward Charlotte Sunday evening, they moved slowly in traffic and noticed a fan with a Kyle Busch M&M’S hat in the car next to them. On a whim, they rolled down the window to get the fan’s attention with a, “Hey, Wassup?” The fan, named Darienne Breazeale as the racing world learned later, had quite the excited reaction as Busch offered to sign her hat. Samantha Busch happened to shoot video the exchange and decided to post it on Twitter. Not surprisingly, the video went viral, quickly gaining millions of views and ending up featured in mainstream media coverage. Safe to say the weekend was not only a success on track, it was also quite the success with Busch’s M&M’S fans, as well.
The southern Virginia short track used to challenge Busch earlier in his career, especially during the early years of racing under the JGR banner. In fact, Busch finished outside the top-10 in three out of his first four races there with JGR in 2008 and 2009. By contrast, Busch has scored five top-five finishes in his last eight Martinsville starts with his worst finish being 15th.
At the pinnacle of recent Martinsville success for Busch and the M&M’s team is the 2015 Cup Series champion’s first career win at the paperclip-shaped oval last April. Not only did he bring home his aforementioned first Martinsville clock, he did it in dominating fashion, leading five times for a race-high 352 laps en route to victory lane.
So as Busch heads back to Martinsville for Sunday’s Cup Series STP 500, he’ll hope to rekindle the magic from one year ago at the .526-mile short track in southern Virginia in hopes of collecting a few more grandfather clocks and perhaps some more fans in the process.