Three races into the new Sprint Cup season, there's no doubt that Kyle Busch would like to be ranked higher than 17th in points heading into Bristol this weekend. But now in his sixth year behind the wheel of the No. 18 M&M's Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing, he's learned to be patient in reacting to even the toughest of circumstances.
"I think the biggest thing is, you just have to be able to—I wouldn't say change, but you have to be able to adapt as the race goes," Busch said in an interview on Tuesday. "If something happens to you, you've got to be able to work on that and make it better for the next time."
That's precisely what Busch did in Las Vegas on Sunday. After two consecutive weeks of disappointing finishes, he fell victim to an early pit road speeding penalty that nearly knocked him off the lead lap. But he battled back from the setback and scored a fourth-place finish, his best run of the year so far.
"The race went okay for us," Busch admitted. "We got caught speeding one time. But what was great about it was we were able to make our way up through from that, put that behind us a little bit, be able to get back up towards the front, lead some laps, and coming down towards the end, compete for the win.
"But we just got too loose in the long run, and we just didn't have enough there at the end to hang with the leaders."
Busch certainly hopes that the rest of the Sprint Cup season will be as good for him as it will for race fans, thanks to sponsor M&M's and the Race Day is Better With M program.
"Race Day is Better With M is the perfect way to show our appreciation to the most loyal fanbase in all of sports with NASCAR, and to do it during this NASCAR season," said Busch. "As the Official Chocolate of NASCAR and the sponsor of my M&M's Toyota, we're excited for this season to reward the fans at the tailgates—they can be rewarded with many great prizes from M&M's, and of course be upgraded to watch from great seats at the races.
"You can even get involved by watching at home on TV—you can share your photos using the hashtag #BetterWithMMs for a chance to be rewarded with cool prizes and upgrades."
Now, Busch sets his sights on Bristol Motor Speedway, a track where he has five career Cup victories, the most recent coming in March 2011. Last year, however, his spring race was cut short by an early accident that relegated him to a 32nd-place finish.
"(Bristol) is just a fun racetrack—it reminds me of the places I kind of grew up on, like Winchester, Indiana, or Salem," Busch said. "We're hoping that 2013 can be a better year for us and get us back to our old winning ways of 2008 through 2011.
"If we can go to Bristol and we can win, I think we can jump ourselves up into the top 10 and pick up six, seven more spots. As far as if we can win this weekend, certainly there's the opportunity for it. Will we? There's 500 laps to run, and then we'll find out."
Christopher Leone is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand.
For more from Christopher Leone, follow @christopherlion on Twitter.