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Kyle Busch to miss Daytona 500 with leg injury

Kyle Busch, center, is taken to an ambulance on a stretcher after he was involved in a multi-car crash during the Xfinity series auto race at Daytona International Speedway, Saturday, Feb. 21, 2015, in Daytona Beach, Fla.
Kyle Busch, center, is taken to an ambulance on a stretcher after he was involved in a multi-car crash during the Xfinity series auto race at Daytona International Speedway, Saturday, Feb. 21, 2015, in Daytona Beach, Fla. AP

Kyle Busch will miss Sunday’s Daytona 500 after suffering a right leg injury in a nasty crash in Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series season opener at Daytona International Speedway.

A NASCAR spokesman said Busch suffered a "right leg injury" and would be unable to participate in Sunday’s Sprint Cup Series opener.

Although no official decision was released immediately, sources said Joe Gibbs Racing had tapped two-time Truck series champion Matt Crafton to substitute for Busch in its No. 18 Toyota on Sunday.

During a wild, 10-car wreck on Lap 112 of 120, Busch’s car was sent through the infield grass and slammed nose-first into a retaining wall along the frontstretch that was not covered by energy-absorbing SAFER barriers.

Busch climbed from his car but almost immediately pointed toward his leg and safety officials had him lie down before eventually placing him on a stretcher with his right leg immobilized.

He was transported to nearby Halifax Medical Center, where he remained under evaluation Saturday night.

SAFER barriers are required at NASCAR’s national series venues but not necessarily on every wall.

Daytona International Speedway President Joie Chitwood III vowed that would change at his track.

"Daytona International Speedway did not live up to its responsibility today. We should have had SAFER barrier there. We did not," he said. "We’re going to fix that."

The track is bringing in tire packs to cover the wall in the area where Busch’s struck a concrete wall.

Following Sunday’s race, Chitwood said the speedway would install SAFER barrier over "every inch" on the property.

"This is not going to happen again," he said.

NASCAR executive vice president Steve O’Donnell echoed Chitwood’s statements.

"What happened tonight should not have happened. That’s on us and we’re going to fix it immediately," he said.

O’Donnell said NASCAR would accelerate talks with other tracks to make the sport as safe as possible.

Since their debut many drivers have called for the use of SAFER barriers throughout every track and those sentiments began to be repeated began almost immediately after Busch’s wreck on Saturday.

"I think we’re to the point now in NASCAR we should have SAFER barriers at a place like this, we’re going so fast. I think we could possibly afford it," said driver Ty Dillon, who finished third in Saturday’s Alert Today Florida 300.

Ryan Reed, who was diagnosed with Type I diabetes four years ago, powered by then-leader Brad Keselowski on the final of 120 laps to win Saturday’s race, his first in the series.

Utter: (704) 358-5113; Twitter: @jim_utter.

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