Busch Injury Puts Teen Gibbs Into Pocono Race

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, July 24 2022

Ty Gibbs will make his Cup Series debut at Pocono on Sunday. (RacinToday.com photo by Deb Williams)

By Deb Williams | Senior Writer

LONG POND, Pa. – Nineteen-year-old Ty Gibbs will make his NASCAR Cup Series debut Sunday at Pocono Raceway, substituting for Kurt Busch who was injured Saturday at the 2.5-mile track during a qualifying session crash.

Gibbs said early Sunday afternoon that he was driving home following Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Pocono when he received the telephone call regarding his Cup debut. He said he “parked on the side of the highway and had to take it all in.” Gibbs was then on the simulator until about 1 a.m. preparing for Sunday’s race.

“All I want to come and do is have a good finish and do the best I can. If that’s winning that’s winning and if that’s finishing 30th that’s finishing 30th. I just want to learn as much as I can,” Gibbs told a throng of media crowded behind the 23XI Racing No. 45 transporter shortly after noon on Sunday.

“Hopefully, I can just help them out and they can learn something today and put it towards the whole Toyota program.”

Gibbs said he was “excited” and “very thankful” for “this whole thing.” He sent prayers to Busch and wished him a quick recovery.

“He’s been a tremendous help to this team,” Gibbs said.

Busch had scheduled an appreciation dinner for his team Saturday night. When he couldn’t attend due to his injury and neither could his team because they were working on the backup car, the food prepared for the dinner was taken to the crew in the Pocono garage.

Word that Busch wouldn’t compete in the Pocono Cup race came from NASCAR shortly after 11:30 a.m., ET, on Sunday in a prepared statement.

“This morning, Kurt Busch met with doctors in the infield care center for further evaluation following his accident during yesterday’s (Saturday) qualifying session. Following the evaluation, Kurt Busch has not been cleared to race in today’s NASCAR Cup Series event at Pocono Raceway,” the NASCAR statement read.

Immediately after NASCAR released its statement, Kurt Busch posted on Twitter: “NASCAR has done a great job of putting the driver’s health before competition and I respect the decision they have made. I’m still having concussion-like symptoms from yesterday’s impact in qualifying. The tests demonstrate I am still recovering. I will continue to follow the medical team’s recommendations, and appreciate everyone’s support. Thanks to 23XI and their efforts, let’s get back on track in Indy!”

Busch lost control of his Toyota during qualifying Saturday afternoon and slammed the third-turn wall. He exited the car under his own power and walked away, but it was evident the team would have to resort to a backup car for Sunday’s M&Ms Fan Appreciation 400.

Busch’s playoff status won’t be affected due to the medical waiver NASCAR will grant him. Playoff rules require a driver compete in every event during the regular season unless granted a waiver. Busch won at Kansas in May. The only way his playoff status would be affected would be if the Cup Series has 17 different winners this year and he’s the lowest person in the point standings with a single victory.

Gibbs finished second in Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity race after an intense duel with winner Noah Gragson in the closing laps. Gibbs’ performance earned praise from JR Motorsports co-owner Dale Earnhardt Jr. who came into the media center as the winning car owner following the Explore the Pocono Mountains 225.

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, July 24 2022
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