<
>

M&Ms Caramel debuts on the #18

M&M'S is unsquaring caramel with its new M&M'S Caramel Chocolate candies now available at retailer nationwide. So it only seems appropriate that M&M'S Caramel will make its debut on Kyle Busch's #18 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) on the 1.5-mile oval at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway for Saturday night's Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series All-Star Race.

In what could arguably be the biggest innovation in M&M'S history, it took years to develop the technology and machines required to get the soft caramel ingredient into the signature hard candy shell. Gone are the days of the square-shaped, square-wrapped caramel candies - M&M'S® has updated one of the most popular flavors by covering soft caramel in a delicious, candy-coated shell. Starting with Saturday's All-Star Race, Busch is scheduled to sport the new M&M'S Caramel colors at 13 Cup Series races during through the summer and fall.

The debut for the M&M'S Caramel scheme Saturday night will come in a race 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 this year's All-Star event - comprised primarily of 2016 and 2017 Cup Series race winners, plus past All-Star Race winners and past series champions - via his four series wins in 2016. 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 171 career wins in NASCAR's top three divisions - Cup, Xfinity, and Camping World Truck - and is tied for 19th on the all-time Cup Series win list with JGR teammate Matt Kenseth.

While Busch has accomplished plenty in his 13-plus Cup Series seasons, one thing that still eludes him is not only a win in the All-Star Race, but a Cup Series win of any kind at the 1.5-mile oval in the backyard of the home for a majority of the race teams. Charlotte is one of only two tracks on the current schedule where Busch hasn't won, the other being Pocono (Pa.) Raceway.

So, as Busch views Saturday's non-points-paying All-Star Race as his annual opportunity to throw patience out the window at his own discretion as he shoots for his first All-Star win, he'll hope that unsquaring caramel in his debut in the M&M'S Caramel colors will be just what he needs to check off another accomplishment during his impressive career.

-- Joe Gibbs RaCing --