Last month, the M&M’s Fan Appreciation 400 at Pocono Raceway featured a thrilling conclusion where Ross Chastain was guided into the wall by his season-long rival Denny Hamlin — securing the race win for Hamlin. Shockingly, Hamlin and his teammate Kyle Busch were disqualified from first and second after failing NASCAR’s post-race technical inspection. Though, a familiar name was missing from the amended results sheet.
During qualifying for the week at Pocono, Kyle’s brother and 2004 Cup Series champion Kurt Busch crashed hard during his run. While going through Turn 3, the rear of the 23XI Toyota Camry slid out from Busch’s control. His car went backward and hit the wall square. The heavy impact quickly pitched the car around, causing Busch to hit the wall again. Kurt Busch was evaluated, and wasn’t medically cleared to participate in the weekend race after exhibiting concussion-like symptoms.
Days later, after further medical evaluations, Kurt Busch was not cleared for the next week’s race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. This means, Busch hasn’t raced since the July 23rd crash. Busch has given updates on social media on his physical recovery during his Cup Series absence. His most recent update confirming his absence from this Sunday’s race at Richmond Raceway was lengthier than the ones prior.
Kurt Busch began by saying:
“Brain injury recovery doesn’t always take a linear path. I’ve been feeling well in my recovery, but this week I pushed to get my heart rate and body in a race simulation type environment, and it’s clear I’m not ready to be back in the race car.”
The tone of his statement signals that he doesn’t know when he’ll return to racing, but he’s doing everything in his power to do so. While a more common risk in professional football, the cumulative effect of small impacts over a long career can make it more and more difficult to recover from brain injuries. In Busch’s absence, 23XI’s #45 car has been driven by Ty Gibbs, who finished 10th in Michigan last Sunday.