As the NASCAR Cup Series heads to Pocono (Pa.) Raceway this weekend, the phrase “Let’s Play Two” is entirely appropriate as NASCAR’s top series heads to the 2.5-mile triangle in the Pocono Mountains.
It was made famous by Chicago Cubs’ legendary Ernie Banks. As the story goes, Banks first uttered the phrase into a half-empty clubhouse on July 18, 1967 as the Cubs were set to play a doubleheader in scorching temperatures approaching 105 degrees in the friendly confines of their home at Wrigley Field in Chicago. Banks’ words went on to become among the more famous sayings in baseball history as he reminded his teammates that, despite the extreme conditions, they were lucky enough to be able to play the great game of baseball.
For many years, the two annual NASCAR Cup Series races at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway have been runs five to six weeks apart. The tight window in which they’d traditionally been run didn’t give much time between trips to the Pocono Mountains for teams to be able to make drastic changes to their cars.
But this weekend, when the Cup Series makes it way to the Poconos, the window of time between Saturday’s Pocono Organics 325 and Sunday’s Pocono 350 is less than 24 hours.
The rules for the first doubleheader weekend in the modern era of the NASCAR Cup Series require teams to use the same car in both events, but they’ll be allowed to work on them between races. Following the finish of Saturday’s 130-lap race, the starting lineup for Sunday’s 140-lap event will be set by inverting the lead-lap finishers, with lapped cars starting Sunday’s race where they finish Saturday.
Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’S Minis Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), also knows he’s fortunate enough to be able to race, and win, for 15 seasons and counting in NASCAR’s top series. Not only has he won 56 races and two Cup Series championships, he’s had his fair share of success recently at the track nicknamed the “Tricky Triangle.” The Las Vegas native won last year’s June Pocono race and has three wins in his last five Cup Series starts there. He’s finished no worse than ninth in his last seven Pocono starts.
For the first time ever, a timeless M&M’S favorite – M&M’S Minis – with adorn Busch’s No, 18 Toyota this weekend. M&M’S Minis are a great way to share the delicious, colorful fun of M&M’S with friends and family. M&M’S Minis are perfect to include in baked treats for the same M&M’S taste, mini style.
Busch’s recent fortunes at Pocono began after he narrowly missed a victory in June 2017. He returned in late July looking for his first Cup Series win there and brought home his first career Pocono Cup Series win behind some clever strategy by crew chief Adam Stevens, as well as his own smart driving. While the top competitors headed to pit road for their final scheduled fuel-and-tire stops late in the race, Stevens elected to leave Busch out longer than the rest. The others were clearly faster on newer tires, but Busch took advantage of a clean track to make up time and, when he was finally called to pit road, he had much fresher tires than his fellow competitors for the closing stages of the race. He eventually drove by Kevin Harvick for an impressive first Pocono victory. Since then, Busch has been able to grab Pocono wins in 2018 and 2019 to add to his growing resume at the Tricky Triangle.
So, as the series heads back to the Pocono Mountains, Busch, crew chief Adam Stevens and the entire team will focus not just on “playing two” with their M&M’S Minis Toyota, but hope to take it a giant step further and win two during this weekend’s doubleheader.