The late Al Davis of the NFL’s Oakland Raiders made famous the phrase “Just Win, Baby.”
For Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’S Caramel Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), the mantra seems appropriate for this weekend’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Dover (Del.) International Speedway, the final race of the Round of 16 in the 2017 playoffs.
The 2015 Cup Series champion and his team will already be looking forward to the start of the second round of the playoffs the following weekend at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway after locking themselves into the Round of 12 with a win last weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon. The New Hampshire win was Busch’s first in a playoff race since his championship-sealing victory in 2015 at the Homestead-Miami Speedway finale. And it was Busch’s first win to advance in the playoffs since the elimination format began in 2014.
But before they head for Charlotte, Busch, crew chief Adam Stevens and the entire M&M’S Caramel team look to do the only thing that they can to advance their position in the playoffs – “Just Win, Baby.” In addition to being locked into the Round of 12, Busch and his team will hope to add more valuable playoff points to the war chest. Last weekend alone, their Stage 2 win and the race victory added six more points to their playoff total, which can be transferred through each round. Busch now has a total of 36 playoff points, the second-most behind points-leader Martin Truex Jr., who has accumulated 59.
The bottom line for the M&M’S Caramel team is a win is all that matters in Sunday’s Apache Warrior 400 at Dover in order to accumulate more playoff points with an eye on advancing to this year’s championship race at Homestead in November.
Much like the first two playoff venues at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois and New Hampshire, Busch and his M&M’S Caramel team have some impressive stats at Dover to bolster their confidence. Busch has two Cup Series wins, five NASCAR Xfinity Series wins and four NASCAR Camping World Truck Series wins to his credit at the concrete mile oval. Busch has led 1,158 laps in his previous 25 Cup Series starts at Dover, an average of almost 45 per race. He will look to improve on his runner-up finish at Dover in last fall’s playoff race, which is among his 11 top-five finishes and 15 top-10s at the track known as the “Monster Mile.”
So, as the M&M’S Caramel team heads to Dover, Busch will have one focus, which is not much different than any other race as he looks to “Just Win, Baby,” in Sunday afternoon’s 400-miler on the Delmarva Peninsula in Delaware’s capital city.