Halloween is here and, as has been typical for Kyle Busch the No. 18 M&M’S Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), the colorful candymaker will yet again go racing with a special Halloween scheme Sunday afternoon at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway to celebrate M&M’S Halloween fun packs leading into the big day next week.
The spooky-looking M&M’S scheme will race two days before Halloween at a place that used to challenge Busch earlier in his career, and early on in his now almost 10-year tenure with JGR. Busch finished outside the top-10 in three of his first four Martinsville races with JGR in 2008 and 2009. By contrast, Busch has scored five top-five finishes in his last eight starts there, with his worst finish being 15th.
At the pinnacle of the recent success at Martinsville for Busch and the M&M’s team is the 2015 NASCAR Cup Series champion’s first career win at the paperclip-shaped oval in April 2016. Not only did he bring home his first Martinsville clock, he did it in dominating fashion, leading five times for a race-high 352 laps en route to victory lane.
With just four races left in the season, and with the series kicking off the Round of 8 of the 2017 playoffs at Martinsville this weekend, Busch knows a repeat performance from April of last year could go a long way in his efforts to bring home his second Cup Series championship for the M&M’S team. If Busch were to win Sunday’s First Data 500 at Martinsville, or at any of the following two events, he would guarantee a spot as one of the four drivers advancing to the winner-take-all finale Nov. 19 at Homestead-Miami Speedway that will decide this year’s Cup Series champion.
All season long, Busch and his M&M’S Halloween team have not been ones to back down from a challenge. He was able to slip through the first two playoff rounds, most recently avoiding major trouble at Sunday’s Round of 12 elimination race at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City. Now that he’s made it to the final eight, Busch feels he has just as good a shot as anyone to win his second Cup Series title.
So as the season heads into the homestretch, Busch and the M&M’S Halloween team know that when it comes to being championship-eligible at Homestead, they’ll hope to take advantage of the confidence built during the last several years at Martinsville. Since he already conquered the .526-mile short track in Southern Virginia just last year, Busch hopes there will be an M&M’S treat, the traditional Grandfather clock, and punched ticket to the championship race in Homestead waiting for him at the end of Sunday’s 500-lap race.