In April 2016, Kyle Busch headed to Martinsville (Va.) Speedway to make his 22nd Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start at the .526-mile paperclip-shaped oval.
Until that point, the driver of the No. 18 M&M’S Caramel Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) had previously posted nine top-five finishes in his previous 21 starts at Martinsville, but a win had eluded him. The previous day in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race, Busch has captured the first grandfather clock trophy of his career, then looked to bring home his first Sunday Cup Series win to complete his first weekend sweep at Martinsville.
That day, not only did the M&M’S Caramel driver capture the long sought-after grandfather clock trophy in Cup Series competition, but he did it in dominant fashion by leading a race-high 352 of 500 laps. Since that April 2016 race weekend, Busch has shown his strength at NASCAR’s shortest track. He’s led a total of 810 laps in his past four Martinsville starts and has finished fifth or better in his last five races there. That includes a pair of Cup Series victories in the last four races contested at the Southern Virginia short track, where NASCAR began racing back in 1948. Busch’s second career Martinsville Cup Series win was the most recent race there last October, when he led 184 laps en route to locking himself into the Championship Four playoff finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Martinsville was a much bigger challenge for Busch earlier in his career, especially during his early years racing under the JGR banner. In fact, Busch finished outside the top-10 in three of his first four races there with JGR in 2008 and 2009. By contrast, Busch has scored seven top-five finishes in his last 10 Martinsville starts with his worst finish being 15th.
Since his disappointing start to the season with a 25th-place finish at the Daytona 500, Busch has been a model of consistency, posting four top-10 finishes, including three consecutive top-threes in which he has come so very close to victory. While he currently sits second in the standings, Busch hopes to keep the momentum rolling from not only his last four outings this season, but from his last four visits to Martinsville as he aims to turn those strong finishes into victories.
So as Busch heads back to Martinsville for Sunday’s Cup Series STP 500, he hopes to collect another grandfather clock at the Southern Virginia short track that is quickly becoming one of his best.