Busch and 23XI Racing announced on Thursday that Busch will not be able to return to the #45 Toyota in time for the start of the playoffs next weekend at Darlington and had therefore withdrawn his medical waiver to participate.
While Busch will no longer be eligible for the driver’s championship, the #45 team will continue to compete for the owner’s championship.
Busch’s withdraw means there are now 14 slots filled in the 16-driver playoff grid, with two available to be filled in Saturday night’s regular season finale at Daytona.
“As much as I wanted and hoped to be able to get back in the #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.”
Race winner Kurt Busch, 23XI Racing, Jordan Brand Toyota Camry
Photo by: Jasen Vinlove / NKP / Motorsport Images
Busch, 43, earned a spot in the playoffs with a win at Kansas in May. The victory marked Busch’s ninth consecutive year with a win.
Busch was involved in a hard wreck and suffered a concussion in the final round of qualifying at Pocono Raceway in late July but has not been cleared by NASCAR to compete since.
“Kurt has elevated our entire organisation 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 organisation as he works with our competition group to keep improving and strengthening the team.”
Ty Gibbs will continue to substitute for Busch and will be behind the wheel of the #45 this weekend at Daytona.
NASCAR issued the following statement: “Kurt Busch has managed this difficult situation like the champion that he is. 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.”
Toyota Racing Development president David Wilson also issued a statement following Busch’s decision:
“Toyota’s priority for Kurt Busch since the moment the accident took place at Pocono has been his health and recovery. 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.”