A quick look at the win column so far in the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season shows at least one thing is clear – Kyle Busch has had a nose for victory with three wins in the first 11 races contested.
Furthermore, as Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’S Red Nose Day Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), heads to Kansas Speedway in Kansas City for Saturday night’s Cup Series Digital Ally 400, he’ll not only have an excellent shot at bringing home his fourth win of the season, but at the very least continuing a top-10 streak that dates back to November of last season –13 races in a row.
With his top-10 finish in Monday’s rain-delayed race at Dover (Del.) International Speedway, Busch tied Morgan Shepherd’s Cup Series modern-era record set in 1990 with 11 straight top-10 finishes to start the season. However, anyone who knows Busch also is aware he’s never content with just bringing home a top-10. His clear goal is to win every race he can. So as the series heads to Kansas, there was a time not long ago when Busch’s goal was to simply finish the race there.
The 1.5-mile oval was built in 2001 and originally featured a constant 15 degrees of banking in the turns. But it underwent a massive renovation project leading into its October 2012 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, he had three consecutive DNFs (Did Not Finish) there, with accidents ending his day each time, for final results of 31st, 38th and 34th.
Feeling snakebit 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 Kansas 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. Again, the 2015 Cup Series champion has never cared much for moral victories. However, the momentum kickstarted by his first top-five at Kansas in October 2014 has remained to this day. Finally, with the surface starting to wear, Kansas has become a place much more agreeable to Busch’s driving style as he has six top-five finishes and eight top-10s in his last eight starts there, including his first Kansas win coming two years ago in this very race with the M&M’S Red Nose Day scheme adorning the No. 18 Toyota.
Busch’s special M&M’S Red Nose Day scheme marks the fifth year in a row M&M’S has partnered with Red Nose Day to help children in need, with the aforementioned Kansas win sporting the M&M’S Red Nose Day scheme back in 2016 adding to the celebrations over the years. 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 sharing a picture on social media channels using the hashtag #NosesOn.
As he and the Cup Series head to Kansas for Saturday’s race under the lights, Busch will bring his (red) nose for victory and, if he succeeds, he would leave with his second career Cup Series win in the Heartland of America and fourth of the season, which would greatly solidify his spot on top of the point standings and his early season playoff outlook.