Kurt Busch: I’m Shutting It Down For The Season

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, October 15 2022

Kurt Busch’s season is over and he won’t drive fulltime next year.(File photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

By Deb Williams | Senior Writer

NASCAR champion Kurt Busch, saying he needed to be unselfish and respect what must happen in the industry to help a team progress, announced Saturday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway he wouldn’t compete fulltime in 2023 and Tyler Reddick would step into the No. 45 Toyota next year.

“I know I’m not a 100 percent in my ability to go out and race at the top level of the NASCAR Cup Series,” an emotional Busch said. “These are the best of the drivers and lately I haven’t felt my best. The doctors have come to the conclusion that it’s best for me to shut it down for this season.

“Even though I’ve made solid gains … I’m still not cleared to race. My long-term health is priority No. 1, and I don’t feel committing at this point to compete for a championship next year is in my best interest or the best interest of the team.”

Busch, who began his racing career in his hometown of Las Vegas, said his issues were vestibular movements. The 44-year-old driver said he was “pushing hard” to get well the first three weeks after his July Pocono accident and admitted that when the playoffs were beginning and he couldn’t participate that, “that emotional week was really tough.”

“The emotions of this are something that I wasn’t prepared for. Nobody is prepared for anything like this,” Busch continued. “The vestibular side is where I’m really focused on with my concussion. From where I was after the accident to where I am now, I’m doing really good. Every day it feels like life is 90, 95 percent, it’s just that last bit of being 100 percent. Performing at the top level in the Cup Series is what I know I am not attaining. 

“I’m at peace where things are. I was close to the end of my contract. It just happened a little sooner, but to race part time and to enjoy things with a little less pressure, I think that will help fulfill things. To pursue a championship and run 36 weekends week-in-and-week-out, it was getting tough for my body to go through it. This changed the course just a little bit.”  

Busch didn’t point to the qualifying wreck at Pocono as being the sole incident that sidelined him from fulltime competition.

“There is not one moment or one circumstance that has led to this decision,” Busch said. “It’s a layer of things. To be frank … I have wrecked a lot of shit in my life – old cars, new cars. So, over the years things add up. Different wrecks this year have made it tough in the grind to get back each week to 100 percent. That was starting to get tough this summer. With the accident at Pocono, it’s again, everything has just kind of added up. It’s not one circumstance more than the other.

“This Next Gen car, we have to continue to make it safer. We have to learn from each of the circumstances whether it’s mine, whether it’s (Ross) Chastain’s, where it’s (Alex) Bowman’s, whether it’s Cody Ware, there have been a ton of hits that we’re all learning from and finding the areas that we need to improve. These hits are tough, but the hits in the past have been tough. I just think we need to keep moving forward with how we can make it all better together. We can’t cry over things that have happened in the past.” 

 TRD U.S.A. President David Wilson said Busch’s decision to step away from full-time NASCAR Cup Series competition next year was “certainly not something anyone expected when we started the season together.”

“Unfortunate circumstances led Kurt to a difficult decision, but we know that he will continue to contribute to the entire program at Toyota, TRD and 23XI Racing,” Wilson said in a prepared statement.

Busch, who’s determined to make a 100 percent recovery, has contacted Fox Sports about working as an analyst. He said he also would continue working with 23XI Racing, sharing his “wisdom and knowledge.”

“Everything I have gained with my unofficial Ph.D. in this garage area deserves to stay with 23XI,” Busch continued. “I will continue to be a brand ambassador for Monster Energy. Toyota and TRD will remain part of my future as well. They have embraced me like a long, lost brother.

“Next year my contributions to racing may look a little different, but I will continue to give my best to this sport. If I’m cleared, maybe you’ll see me at a few select races.”

Busch said he would like to add Darlington and Watkins Glen victories to his resume. He also noted he has won at Michigan in a Dodge, a Ford and a Chevrolet and he would like to have a victory in a Toyota as well.  

After Busch’s announcement, NASCAR President Steve Phelps released the following statement.

“For more than two decades, we have been privileged to watch Kurt Busch compete. He has proven himself a champion on the race track, but perhaps just as importantly, he has grown to become a true ambassador for the sport. Kurt’s drive to improve the future of motorsports has set him apart. We are thrilled that he’ll remain in our sport as a leader and trusted resource. Kurt’s unparalleled passion for racing gives us hope that we will see him in a race car again.”

Busch said his announcement wasn’t the end. It’s “just a step in my future direction.”

“It is emotional to not run for a championship, but there are still more races to be raced,” Busch said. 


| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, October 15 2022
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