ThatsRacin

Daytona 500: NASCAR season kicks off without the Busch brothers

Regan Smith, , right, talks with Tony Stewart on the grid before Sunday’s Daytona 500. Smith was  the replacement driver for Kurt Busch on Sunday.
Regan Smith, , right, talks with Tony Stewart on the grid before Sunday’s Daytona 500. Smith was the replacement driver for Kurt Busch on Sunday. Getty Images

Sunday’s Daytona 500 was the first Sprint Cup Series race held without either Kurt and Kyle Busch since Nov. 18, 2001, when older brother Kurt failed to qualify for a race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Neither is expected back to competition anytime soon.

Kyle Busch remained hospitalized Sunday night at Halifax Medical Center with a mid-foot fracture of his left foot and compound fracture in his lower right leg, for which he had surgery Saturday night.

He is likely looking at an extended recovery.

Busch was injured in Saturday’s Xfinity Series race at Daytona International Speedway when his No. 54 Toyota was caught in a multi-car wreck and plowed nose-first into a retaining wall that was not covered by energy-absorbing SAFER barriers.

“We’ll talk more about how long he’s going to be out and try to get an evaluation of that and then starting (Monday) we’ll talk about what’s our best decision for everybody on going forward,” said Kyle’s team owner, Joe Gibbs.

“I know our emphasis is getting him back as quick as we can. I know that’s what Kyle will be wanting to do and we’ll have everybody working with him and for him in rehab and everything else to get him back as quick as we can in the car.”

Two-time Truck series champion Matt Crafton drove Busch’s No. 18 Toyota in Sunday’s 500 and finished 19th.

Saturday night the speedway had tire packs installed in all areas where SAFER barrier wasn’t and track president Joie Chitwood III vowed “every inch” would be covered in the coming months.

Despite participating in most of Speedweeks, Kurt Busch was not at the track Sunday and remains indefinitely suspended from the sport.

His suspension was upheld through two expedited appeals Saturday and his Stewart-Haas Racing team put Regan Smith in its No. 41 Chevrolet for Sunday’s race and finished 16th.

NASCAR suspended Busch Friday after a Kent County (Del.) Family Court commissioner issued a ruling that detailed alleged acts of domestic violence committed by Busch last year against his ex-girlfriend, Patricia Driscoll.

Busch’s attorneys are appealing the commissioner’s protective order and the Delaware Attorney General’s office has not yet decided whether to charge Busch.

“We will continue to exhaust every procedural and legal remedy we have available to us until Kurt Busch is vindicated,” said Busch’s attorney, Rusty Hardin.

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

  Comments