CHARLOTTE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — NASCAR champion Kurt Busch will miss the start of the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs as he continues to recover from a brain injury sustained in a crash at Pocono last month, the driver announced Thursday.
Busch has been out of his No. 45 Toyota for 23XI Racing since a crash in qualifying on July 23 at Pocono Raceway.
He was said to be experiencing 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,” Busch said. “In addition to not being cleared to return to racing, I know that I am not ready to be back in the car.”
Busch said he would relinquish his spot in the Cup Series Playoffs, despite being locked in after his win at Kansas earlier this year.
“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,” he said. “The decision was not an easy one, but I know it is the right thing to do.”
TRD U.S.A. President David Wilson said Busch’s health and recovery are the main priorities for the manufacturer’s race team.
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Wilson said Busch made the decision to stay out of the car when the NASCAR Playoffs get underway at Darlington on September 4.
“While we are 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,” Wilson added.
Xfinity Series regular Ty Gibbs will continue to fill in for the No. 45 car until Busch’s return, 23XI Racing said. Gibbs has filled in for Busch since the crash at Pocono.
Thursday’s announcement threw yet another wrench in the race to make the playoffs ahead of the regular season finale at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday.
Prior to Busch’s announcement, only one playoff spot remained up for grabs. Ryan Blaney enters Daytona with a 25 point lead over Martin Truex Jr.
With Busch withdrawing from the playoff race, two spots may now be up for grabs when the green flag drops.