Kurt Busch will miss the start of the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs and has withdrawn the medical waiver that kept him eligible for the postseason as he continues to recover from concussion-like symptoms.
“As much as I wanted and hoped to be able to get back in the No. 45 car to make a playoff run with our team, it’s still not the right time for me,” said Busch. “In addition to not being cleared to return to racing, I know that I am not ready to be back in the car. I respect the sport of NASCAR, my fellow drivers and the fans too much to take up a playoff spot if I know I can’t compete for a championship this season.
“The decision was not an easy one, but I know it is the right thing to do. I will continue to take time to heal and strengthen as I prepare to be back in the car and will do all I can to help 23XI continue the success we have had this season.”
Busch and the No. 45 team from 23XI Racing earned a playoff spot by winning at Kansas Speedway in May. He has not competed in a Cup Series race since New Hampshire in mid-July. A crash in Turn 3 at Pocono Raceway during qualifying — when Busch’s car spun and backed into the wall and then snapped around and hit with the right front — has sidelined him for the foreseeable future.
Saturday night at Daytona will be the sixth consecutive race Busch has missed. It was not specified how much time Busch would miss in the playoffs.
“Kurt has elevated our entire organization this year,” said 23XI team president, Steve Lauletta. “Although Kurt will not be competing for a championship this season, he will continue to play a vital role in the organization as he works with our competition group to keep improving and strengthening the team.”
Busch’s team remains eligible for the owner’s championship. Ty Gibbs will remain the substitute driver in the No. 45.
By withdrawing the waiver, two spots are now up for grabs Saturday night in the final race of the regular season.
“Kurt Busch has managed this difficult situation like the champion that he is,” a statement fro NASCAR read. “Working closely with his doctors, every decision made has been in the best interest of his health, his competitors and the sport. Kurt has NASCAR’s full support as he continues to heal, and we look forward to seeing him return to the race car.
“23XI Racing has informed NASCAR that it is withdrawing Kurt’s medical waiver request. Per the NASCAR rule book, a spot has been made available for the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs. The No. 45 car will continue to compete for the 2022 owner championship.”
“Toyota’s priority for Kurt Busch since the moment the accident took place at Pocono has been his health and recovery,” said Toyota Racing President David Wilson. “Not his recovery to get back in a race car, but his recovery overall. TRD has been working directly with Kurt to support him on his recovery journey, but ultimately this decision was Kurt’s and we support him completely. While we’re disappointed that he won’t get the chance to compete for the 2022 championship by missing the start of the playoffs, his well-being is the only thing that matters to us. We know Kurt will still be a big part of our championship efforts this season through his support and his extensive racing knowledge that he can share with his team and fellow Toyota drivers.”