Sprint Cup Series driver Kyle Busch remains hospitalized but has been transferred to a Charlotte-area hospital for continued treatment for his injuries suffered last weekend at Daytona International Speedway.
Busch had surgery in Daytona Beach, Fla., Saturday night for a compound fracture in his right leg. Now that he has returned to Charlotte, he will begin treatment for a mid-foot fracture in his left foot.
He suffered the injuries in Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series season opener at Daytona when his No. 54 Toyota got caught up in a multicar wreck and plowed nose-first into an interior retaining wall that was not covered by energy-absorbing SAFER barriers.
“We appreciate all the support we have received from the NASCAR community including our fans and we look forward to getting Kyle back in the car as soon as possible,” said Joe Gibbs Racing team owner Joe Gibbs.
Tuesday night, JGR named David Ragan as Busch’s replacement in the No. 18 Toyota in the Cup series for the “next several weeks.”
Kyle Busch Motorsports’ Truck series driver, Erik Jones, will drive the No. 54 Toyota in the Xfinity Series race this weekend at Atlanta in place of Busch.
The Observer first reported Ragan’s candidacy for Busch’s Cup ride Tuesday morning.
Ragan, a two-time Cup series winner, has spent the past three-plus seasons at Front Row Motorsports, and the organization accommodated the move with the hope Ragan will return to its organization later this season.
“We are fortunate to be able to have someone of David’s caliber behind the wheel while Kyle recovers,” Gibbs said. “Erik is a big part of our future at JGR and we will be increasing his schedule in the Xfinity Series … and seeking the earliest opportunity to provide him Cup experience.”
SMI reviewing track safety
After Busch’s crash at Daytona, Speedway Motorsports Inc. said it is reviewing the barriers at its tracks. That review, conducted in conjunction with NASCAR, will mean changes at Atlanta in time for this weekend’s races.
SMI shipped three flat-bed truckloads of tires from Concord to Atlanta, and the tires will be used to cushion the walls in two areas identified by NASCAR as potential problems. Those areas are near the entrance and exit to pit road.
The tires, 74 packs of 15 tires each for more than 1,100 total, were loaded onto the trucks at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Tuesday, spokesman Scott Cooper said.
The changes at Atlanta could be just the beginning.
Additions to SAFER barriers had already been planned at three SMI tracks – Charlotte, New Hampshire and Kentucky, before races are held there this season. Additional changes at those tracks, and at other SMI tracks, could be made after the joint analysis by the company and NASCAR officials.
“We’re going to look at the SAFER barriers and in consultation with NASCAR make any adjustments necessary,” Cooper said.
Sports editor Mike Persinger contributed to this article.