Kyle Busch and wife Samantha look happy to be leaving the Halifax Medical Center in Florida. Busch was released following a horrific accident during the NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday. He will be transferred to a North Carolina hospital for further treatment.
Busch has a compound fracture of his lower right leg and a mid-foot fracture of his left foot from hitting a hard wall in the infield at Daytona. The impact spurred a renewed focus on installing SAFER barriers at various tracks, including Atlanta Motor Speedway, which will host this weekend's race.
According to NASCAR, Atlanta Motor Speedway plans to add 130 feet total of additional protective barrier in total. The speedway plans to cover the exit of pit road near Turn 1 in protective wall. Additionally, a tire wall will be added along the inside wall of Turn 4. The track plans to take further review of their walls after this weekend's Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500.
Busch will certainly be out of racing for weeks past Atlanta. Joe Gibbs Racing had current NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion Matt Crafton fill in for Busch at the Daytona 500, but we're unsure of who will drive Busch's #18 M&Ms Toyota at Atlanta and beyond. Despite getting taken out in the big crash on the race's last lap, Crafton had a respectable Sprint Cup debut finish in eighteenth place.
Multiple sources say that David Ragan and Erik Jones have both been contacted to be more of a long-term solution for the #18 Toyota. Jayski's NASCAR Silly Season Site reports that Ragan could share interim driver responsibilities with Joe Gibbs Racing Camping World Truck Series driver Erik Jones. The team reportedly met with Ragan today, and Jones yesterday, at their North Carolina team headquarters. Jones has four career victories in CWTS, but the team is worried that bringing him into Sprint Cup too soon could be detrimental to his career if he doesn't finish well. Jones will likely take up more of Busch's part-time drive in the Xfinity Series as a result, and then pick up a few races in Sprint Cup after he gains more experience in the two NASCAR feeder series.
Ragan, then, would pick up more of the Sprint Cup races in the #18 car. One other kink in this plan involves Ragan's current relationship with Ford. However, if Ford wants their driver to get more Sprint Cup seat time, this is one way to do it.
Our thoughts are with Kyle Busch, wishing him a speedy recovery.