Kurt Busch is set to miss a fourth consecutive NASCAR Cup Series race after his qualifying crash at Pocono.
Busch suffered an apparent concussion when his car backed into the wall during that qualifying session. He's missed the three races since that crash and said Wednesday that he couldn't participate in Sunday's race at Richmond because he wasn't able to handle race simulations as he prepared for his return.
“Brain injury recovery doesn’t always take a linear path,” Busch wrote in a statement. “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.”
“This was by far the hardest week emotionally because I do feel the progression of recovery, but racing requires an extreme physical and mental effort and my body is not 100% able to sustain the intense race conditions.”
“I am making progress and pushing hard each day. I am encouraged by my team of doctors, and we will continue to do everything it takes to get me to 100% to return to competition.”
Busch will be replaced by Xfinity Series driver Ty Gibbs again in the No. 45 car for 23XI Racing. Gibbs, the grandson of NASCAR owner and former Washington Commanders coach Joe Gibbs, has filled in for Busch in the three races he's missed so far.
Busch is 20th in the points standings despite missing three races and is currently in the 16-driver playoff field because of his win at Kansas in May. But there’s now a chance Busch could find himself as the last driver in the playoffs ahead of the postseason in September. Fifteen different drivers have won races in 2022 while neither Ryan Blaney or Martin Truex Jr. have visited victory lane despite being in the top four in the points standings. If both Blaney and Truex win over the next three races— or any combination of two of the five winless drivers ahead of Busch in the points standings — then Busch would miss out on the postseason.