For a guy who has for most of his NASCAR career let his racing do the talking, Kyle Busch was pleasantly long-winded on Wednesday.
Armed with video clips and a laptop, Busch spent nearly an hour at Joe Gibbs Racing headquarters recounting the Feb. 21 wreck in the Xfinity Series opener at Daytona that continues to keep him sidelined.
There is still no timetable for his return, but the only visible reminder of his violent wreck is a walking boot on his left foot.
“I’m alive today just because the fact that the restraints worked, the seat worked, the HANS device worked – everything worked,” Busch said. “I can’t say enough about NASCAR and their innovations. From my knees up, no problem, not a mark on me, not a bruise, not a headache, not a neck ache, nothing.
“It was just a matter of your flailing feet when you’re in a wreck like that.”
Busch suffered a compound fracture of his right leg and left mid-foot fracture, both of which required surgery.
While reviewing his wreck frame by frame for the assembled media, Busch said the wreck began when he tried to push JGR teammate Erik Jones.
“From the beginning, the wreck was essentially all my fault,” he said. “I was being greedy trying to win the race.”
Disrupted airflow from the spinning cars around him sent Busch’s car careening off the track and nose-first into a concrete wall not protected by energy-absorbing SAFER barriers.
Busch said analysis showed he was running at 176 mph when he left the track surface and 90 mph at the time of impact.
“Obviously, that was a huge hit,” he said.
Busch, 29, said his immediate concern while attempting to exit his car was whether he would ever race again and that he repeatedly told the track safety workers assisting him that he had broken his leg and foot.
He was immediately transported to nearby Halifax Health Medical Center and underwent one surgery. He had another after returning to the Charlotte area.
The weeks afterward, he said, were spent watching TV, undergoing physical therapy, playing video games and helping prepare for the impending birth of a son with his wife, Samantha.
“It stinks to be sitting on the sideline,” he said. “It hasn’t been traumatic; it had been a very difficult time in the beginning, but we dealt with it.”
Since the accident, a number of NASCAR tracks have increased, or announced plans to increase, the safety barriers covering their concrete walls. NASCAR has also undertaken reviews of each track’s safety measures and has recommended changes where it felt appropriate.
Busch said he was “disappointed” there were no SAFER barriers in the area he hit but has been pleased with the response by NASCAR and the tracks.
“If there’s a wall that needs a tire barrier, put one there. But it can’t be constructed overnight. I understand that,” he said. “We’re all hoping sooner rather than later.”
While Busch said he hoped he could return to competition by July, he has been given no timetable by his doctors.
Because of NASCAR’s no-private-testing policy, Busch won’t be able to test in a Cup car before his return. He said he hopes to test with his Late Model team in order to get some track time.
He also has an additional surgery scheduled in December to remove a plate and screws from his left foot.
“Now I can say I legitimately have screws loose,” he deadpanned.
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