With Halloween right around the corner, Kyle Busch and the No. 18 M&M’S Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), will race Sunday afternoon at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway once again sporting the colorful candymaker’s special Halloween scheme to celebrate M&M’S Halloween fun packs.
Along with his favorite chocolate candies, Busch is looking for something else to add to his Halloween treat bag following Sunday’s First Data 500 at Martinsville, and that’s the traditional Martinsville grandfather clock trophy for winning at NASCAR’s shortest track. While the clock may be way too big for his treat bag, a win would be quite the treat as it would automatically qualify him for the season-ending Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway three weeks hence. Busch knows the feeling well as he won at Martinsville last October, qualifying him for the winner-take-all Homestead playoff finale and allowing him and his team to focus on it a few weeks early.
The spooky-looking M&M’S scheme will race four days before Halloween at a place that used to challenge Busch at the start of his career, and early on in his 12-year tenure with JGR. Busch finished outside the top-10 in three of his first four Martinsville races with JGR in 2008 and 2009. Since then, Busch has scored eight straight top-five finishes there and he hopes a ninth straight top-five Sunday will boost his championship hopes.
The beginning of the recent success at Martinsville for Busch and the M&M’s team came with 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. His win at Martinsville in October 2017 came late in the race.
With just four races left in the season, and with the series kicking off the Round of 8 of the 2019 playoffs at Martinsville this weekend, Busch knows a repeat performance from 2017 would be just the ticket in his efforts to bring home his second Cup Series championship for the M&M’S Halloween team.
All season long, Busch and his team have never backed down from a challenge. He was able to advance through the first two playoff rounds, most recently with a solid third-place finish in Sunday’s Round of 12 finale at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City. Now that he’s made it to the final eight, Busch knows he and his team have some work to do to make it to the championship race at Homestead.
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 since 2015 at Martinsville. Since he already conquered the .526-mile short track in Southern Virginia twice in recent years, Busch hopes in addition to an M&M’S treat and the traditional Grandfather clock to add to his treat bag, a punched ticket to the championship race in Homestead will be waiting for him at the end of Sunday’s 500-lap marathon, as well.