One year ago this weekend, Kyle Busch finally found his “nose” for victory in the Monster Energy All-Star Race at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway in his 12th attempt to win the non-points event.
Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’S Red Nose Day Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), has had well-documented success at Charlotte in NASCAR’s Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series, with eight Xfinity and seven Truck Series wins there. Busch’s record in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series isn’t too shabby, either, with 11 top-five finishes and 16 top-10s to his name. However, until his All-Star win last year, Busch had not gone to victory lane at Charlotte in NASCAR’s top series, and he’ll still be seeking his first points-paying victory there when the series comes back May 27 for the traditional Memorial Day weekend Coca-Cola 600.
Busch’s M&M’S Red Nose Day scheme for Saturday night’s All-Star Race will come in an event that always seems to be tailor-made for the aggressive driving style of the 2015 Cup Series champion. Busch first left his non-points-race mark on the 2009 edition of the All-Star Race. NASCAR introduced short-track-style, double-file restarts for just the All-Star Race that year. After Busch pulled off several bold moves that helped inject plenty of excitement into the race, it prompted NASCAR to go ahead and institute the double-file restart rule permanently for its top three series shortly after the 2009 All-Star race.
Busch locked in his spot for Saturday night’s main event – comprised primarily of 2017 and 2018 Cup Series race winners, plus past All-Star Race winners and past series champions – via his five series wins in 2017 and three thus far in 2018. The Las Vegas native not only has earned the title of All-Star, he’s one of the dominant forces in NASCAR’s top series, totaling 187 career wins in NASCAR’s top three divisions and is tied for 15th on the all-time Cup Series win list with NASCAR Hall of Famer Buck Baker.
For the first time in Cup Series competition on a 1.5-mile oval, the cars this weekend will use a horsepower-reducing restrictor plate, a splitter borrowed from the 2014 rules package with a 2018 radiator pan, a 6-inch-tall spoiler with two “ear” extensions measuring 12 inches tall, and manufacturer-specific air ducts designed to minimize the advantage of lead cars in undisturbed air. There will no doubt be a lot of unknowns with NASCAR never using this type of package for its Cup Series cars on a track other than Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway or Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway.
Busch’s special M&M’S Red Nose Day scheme to defend his 2017 All-Star win marks the fourth year in a row that M&M’S has partnered with Red Nose Day to help children in need. M&M’S is donating more than $1 million to the Red Nose Day Fund to ensure children in need are safe, healthy and educated both in the United States and around the world. Fans can join the Red Nose Day fun by picking up a Red Nose at local Walgreens stores, and share a picture on social media channels using the hashtag #NosesOn.
Busch views Saturday’s non-points All-Star Race as his annual opportunity to throw patience out the window at his own discretion. With an All-Star victory already under his belt, he hopes the M&M’S Red Nose Day colors will bring the No. 18 team good luck again as it looks to add another All-Star win to its growing list of accomplishments.