The No. 18 in better times - NASCAR photoEnlarge Photo
NASCAR Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series driver Kyle Busch's actions during last weekend's Truck series race continues to strike reverberations in his area of the NASCAR Sprint Cup garage.
After stating that Busch's actions were in no way compatible with their philosophies, Mars Incorporated, the primary sponsor of Joe Gibbs Racing's No. 18 Toyota Camry for the Las Vegas-born Busch, removed the M&M candies paint scheme from the car for the final two races of the year, this weekend's Phoenix contest and next weekend's finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Longtime team sponsor Interstate Batteries' green colors will identify the No. 18 at both races.
Busch punted Camping World Truck Series championship contender Ron Hornaday Jr's Chevy truck into the wall at Texas Motor Speedway a week ago Friday - under caution - and was immediately removed from the race.
NASCAR took the step of sitting Busch for both the Nationwide and Sprint Cup races on the 1.5-mile Texas oval; Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin ran the Nationwide race and finished second; journeyman Michael McDowell fought an ill-handling car to 33rd in the Sprint Cup race.
After the weekend, Busch was fined $50,000 and placed on probation until the end of the year.
On November 10th, Mars Inc. removed Busch from driving the M&M's car for the balance of the 2011 Sprint Cup series; they did say he'll be the driver of the No. 18 M&M's car in 2012, providing no further incidents take place.
"As a proud member of the racing community, Mars and the M&M's brand strongly support the partnership we have with Joe Gibbs Racing - and are committed to NASCAR," said Debra A. Sandler, chief consumer office for Mars Chocolate North America. "Yet Kyle's recent actions are unacceptable and do not reflect the values of Mars.
"While we do not condone Kyle's recent actions, we do believe that he has shown remorse and has expressed a desire to change. We believe our decision will have a positive impact on Kyle and will help him return next season ready to win."
Joe Gibbs, owner of Joe Gibbs Racing and former coach of the Washington Redskins NFL football team stated, "We strongly support Mars' decision. This gives us all time to work together to foster a positive change where Kyle can continue racing in a way we can all be proud of."
Practice for Sunday's Kobalt Tools 500K on the newly reconfigured Phoenix International Raceway mile oval begins Friday.
© 2011 Anne Proffit