One year ago this weekend, Kyle Busch finally found his “nose” for victory at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City. A look at his last eight starts on the 1.5-mile oval shows the last four starts there were quite the opposite of his four previous starts.
Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’S Red Nose Day Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), heads to Kansas as the defending race winner of Saturday night’s NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series Go Bowling 400, where things didn’t always go nearly as well as his race there one year ago.
The 1.5-mile oval built in 2001, which originally featured a constant 15 degrees of banking in the turns, underwent a massive renovation project leading into its October 2012 Cup Series event. The changes included repaving of the existing track surface, reconfiguration of the oval, and the addition of a new infield road course. The oval’s geometric shape also was changed to feature variable banking of 17 to 20 degrees in the turns.
To say that Busch didn’t take well to the new surface would be quite the understatement. From October 2012 to 2013, Busch had three consecutive DNFs (Did Not Finish) there, with accidents ending his day each time, for final results of 31st, 38th and 34th.
Feeling snake bit on the new Kansas surface, Busch and his M&M’S team took a different approach starting with the April 2014 race by starting from scratch with a brand new car. They attacked the track in the Heartland of America with the hopes that a fresh outlook would produce vastly different results. While a pit-road speeding penalty cost them precious track position and an even better finish in the race, the result and effort was much different than the three previous trips. Instead, they were competitive enough to turn the corner in terms of results.
In the October 2014 Cup Series race, Busch brought home his first ever top-five finish at Kansas. Anyone who has ever followed Busch’s career knows the 2015 Cup Series champion never cared much for moral victories. However, the momentum carried over from his first top-five at Kansas in October 2014 has remained to this day. So much so that, last May, Busch was able to bring home his first Cup Series win at the 1.5-mile oval – in the special M&M’S Red nose day scheme, no less – and follow it up with another top-five finish in the fall race. Finally, with the surface starting to wear, Kansas has become a place much more agreeable to Busch’s driving style.
For the third year in a row, M&M’S is partnering with Red Nose Day to encourage Americans to come together and get their #NosesOn to help end child poverty. M&M’S will once again donate more than $1 million to the Red Nose Day Fund to support programs that ensure children in need are safe, healthy and educated, both in the United States and around the world. In addition, this year’s Red Nose Day race broadcast will feature a new 60-second spot from M&M’S, showing the pride and passion of associates at Mars and that their dedication to bringing smiles to children in need goes above and beyond making chocolate candies. To learn more about M&M’S Red Nose Day efforts, follow the M&M’S social channels and check out hashtag #NosesOn.
To join in on the Red Nose Day fun, Busch and his No. 18 M&M'S Toyota will feature the aforementioned special Red Nose Day paint scheme in Saturday night’s race. And Busch and his car won’t be the only ones at Kansas donning Red Noses for the cause as M&M’S will provide attendees at Saturday night’s prerace festivities with their own Red Nose. Busch will also have some fun with fans by being part of a #NosesOn super selfie after a special Red Nose Day fan Q&A.
So, as the Cup Series heads to Kansas for Saturday’s race under the lights, Busch hopes his newly found success at Kansas helps him bring home his fifth consecutive top-five and his second career Cup Series wins in the Heartland of America.