ORLANDO Fla. – So far this year Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&Ms Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series, has one win and 3 top five finishes. His latest was this past Sunday at Martinsville Speedway, where he finished fifth.
Last Monday 27 year-old Busch stopped by the M&Ms store in the Florida Mall in Orlando Florida to sign autographs and meet fans. That is where I got to exchange a few words with him and even ask him a few questions.
At one point during the Martinsville race I was sure Kyle was going to score his first career victory at Martinsville; in the end Jimmie Johnson took the win. I asked Kyle what he would have done different or changed. He said he would have taken it a bit easier on the track around halfway through the race; perhaps around lap 300. He also said the most challenging thing about the Martinsville is the size. It’s the shortest track in the Sprint Cup Series.
“I thought through the middle we had a pretty good piece and we had something to challenge them with,” Busch said Sunday. “There at the end when it was go time just didn’t quite have enough in this M&M’s Camry — just not enough turn and not enough drive off. We have to work on all those things. It’s all about minimizing your time off the throttle here and we didn’t figure all that out this weekend.”
When it comes to this weekend’s upcoming race in Texas he told me to expect, “a fast race. Texas is always a fast race.” One of the challenges, he says is that it is also at night.
“Texas is a really fast mile-and-a-half racetrack. Charlotte has been fast the last few years and Texas has always kind of been that way.,” Busch said about the race this Saturday night. “The asphalt is getting a little bit older but, for as old as the asphalt is, it’s still really fast for a few laps and it’s still kind of a pain, sometimes, because it is so aero-dependent that when you do run the bottom it’s hard to pass. You’ve got to be able to move around a little bit and run the middle, run the top and show some ability to go all over the racetrack. We’re getting closer each and every time, it feels like. Sometimes not so much – you kind of go forward and then you go backward and then you kind of comeback forward some.
So I asked him how he planned to prepare for it. If there was some secret ritual he has before every race to help him win. For instance, when I was in middle school, for a snow day I would wear my underwear inside out and parade around the house with a frozen spoon.
Kyle said, “No, not anymore.” Not anymore? I had to know what that meant, so I dug deeper. Well, he told me he did once have rituals, like putting his right shoe on before his left, but that it got to be too much. That he found himself constantly worrying whether it had worked, or if he had even remembered to do it. So he gave it up.
As for having M&M as a sponsor, Kyle made it clear it was all about the team. He told me besides loving the colors and how it catches kid’s eyes, M&M also has a great team. He said one of the best things about working with them is that everyone gets along well.
And his favorite M&M? Well, Kyle says he used to have a favorite one they now only make in Australia. He says they even still ship them to him, but that he is a long-time lover of the regular milk-chocolate ones.
For being a celebrity, Kyle Busch is extremely down to earth, friendly, and an overall cool guy.