Kurt Busch took to social media to announce that he will not be competing in the final two NASCAR Cup Series regular-season events of this season at Watkins Glen International (August 21) and at Daytona International Speedway (August 27).
The news comes as the 2004 Cup Series champion from Las Vegas, Nevada, continues to recover from concussion-like symptoms stemming from a qualifying wreck at Pocono Raceway that occurred on July 23. The wreck has since prevented him from competing in the last four Cup scheduled events (Pocono, Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course, Michigan International Speedway and Richmond Raceway) while Xfinity Series competitor Ty Gibbs has been filling in Busch’s 23XI Racing Toyota entry.
Despite his absence, Busch currently remains in contention to qualify for the 2022 Cup Series Playoffs by virtue of winning at Kansas Speedway on May 15 and with an injury waiver. His fate to make the 16-field Playoffs depends on the outcome of the final two regular-season events, beginning this upcoming weekend at Watkins Glen. In the event that the final two regular-season events are won by a winless competitor, thus tallying the total number of winners to 17, Busch would miss the Playoffs based on recording the fewest points of all competitors eligible for the Playoffs.
With Busch out, Ty Gibbs will remain as an interim competitor of 23XI Racing’s No. 45 Toyota TRD Camry entry for the following two Cup events and as part of a double-duty effort. The upcoming events at Watkins Glen and at Daytona will tally his total starts in the Cup circuit to six.
Gibbs, who competes as a full-time Xfinity Series competitor for Joe Gibbs Racing and is ranked in third place in the regular-season standings on the strength of five victories, made his inaugural start in NASCAR’s premier series at Pocono on July 24, where he piloted the No. 45 23XI Racing entry to a 16th-place result after starting at the rear of the field. His best on-track result during his four-race interim role has been a 10th-place run at Michigan on August 7, which marked his first top-10 result in the Cup circuit. His average-finishing result during his four-race stint is 19.8.
The No. 45 23XI Racing Toyota entry piloted by Gibbs is scheduled to compete at Watkins Glen International this Sunday, August 21, with the event’s coverage to occur at 3 p.m. ET on USA Network followed by Daytona International Speedway on August 27, which will air at 7 p.m. ET on NBC. Busch’s status and 23XI Racing’s driver plans for the No. 45 entry for the 2022 Cup Playoffs that will commence at Darlington Raceway on September 4 remain to be announced.