HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. – Injured NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Kyle Busch said in a press conference on Wednesday that while his timetable is uncertain, he hopes to return to racing by July after breaking his right leg in a crash during a NASCAR XFINITY Series event at Daytona Int’l Speedway on Feb. 21.
Busch hasn’t competed since the accident, while Matt Crafton and David Ragan have substituted for the 29-year-old Las Vegas native in the No. 18 Toyota. Although Busch’s goal is to return to action by the Coke Zero 400 on July 5, he alluded during the press conference at Joe Gibbs Racing that that the matter is out of his control.
He’ll have to be cleared by his doctors, who told Busch that his recovery, while week to week, is progressing quickly.
“We’ve given some thought as to how fortunate I am to be sitting here right now,” Busch said Wednesday.
Busch also outlined his accident, which occurred during the final laps of the Alert Today Florida 300. He claimed he was “being greedy” by attempting to push JGR teammate Erik Jones through a crowd of cars. Busch lost control of his own car in the process, slid down the track and impacted a wall – that wasn’t covered by a SAFER barrier – at 90 mph. The hit registered 90Gs, and the driver knew instantly that he was seriously injured.
“All the air in my body escaped,” Busch said.
Daytona officials, as well as those at other tracks, have since gone to lengths to provide more soft walls around their racing surfaces since the accident. Busch said it’s a matter that needs to be taken care of as quickly as possible.
“If there’s a wall that needs a tire barrier, put one there,” he said. “It can’t be constructed overnight. I understand that. We’re all hoping it’s sooner, rather than later.”
Busch’s first visitor to the hospital following the Daytona 500, which ran a day after Busch’s injury, was Tony Stewart – who suffered a broken leg in a sprint car crash in 2013, which Busch said was a different injury than his own.
Busch also sustained a broken left foot in the Daytona accident, which he said will require another surgery in December to remove plates and screws in the foot.
His next step as a driver will be to eventually test a Late Model car in order to see if he’s ready to return to competition. The owner of 29 wins in Sprint Cup, 70 in XFINITY and 42 in the Camping World Truck Series also said he’ll hone in on his job in Sprint Cup upon his return.
His ultimate goal is to still qualify for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, but he’d need a medical waiver, a win and enough races to get into the top 30 in points.
Busch will, however, continue to drive in the other national touring series when he’s contractually obligated but it won’t be his immediate priority.
“We are focused on Cup right now,” he said.