Kurt Busch has been on the shelf since a qualifying crash at Pocono, missed the Pocono Cup Series race and stopped last week at Indianapolis Motor Speedway after being put on NASCAR’s concussion protocol.
He will also miss the event this weekend at the Michigan International Speedway, where he has won three times in 41 games.
The 2004 NASCAR Cup Series champion sent fans a message via Twitter last Saturday as Xfinity Series’ Ty Gibbs took the wheel of the #23XI Racing Toyota Camry for the second weekend in a row.
Bosch, who posted a selfie on Twitter from the 23XI Racing Control Center, said he is grateful for the support he has received since he was sidelined by the accident.
But despite his progress and his optimism, Busch was disqualified from the Firekeepers 400 casino on Sunday, which he spoke about in person on social media.
Prior to this injury, Bosch had not missed a Cup Series race since 2015.
Kurt Bosch hits a wall hard at the Pocono Raceway
Bush, a 34-time Series Cup winner and 2004 Series Champion, crashed the rear end first into the wall at Pocono Raceway during the playoffs.
As the car rounded the final turn, Bush slid backwards into a wall and took the brutal blow that has kept him ever since. Bush was victorious earlier this year in Kansas and is – at least for now – in the NASCAR Championship playoff field despite losing what is now behind the wheel for three weeks.
Driving a spare car, Gibbs made his Cup Series debut at the Pocono as a replacement for Bush and made a pair of top-20 performances, finishing 17th in Indy and 16th in Pocono.
The severe blow to Pocono caused Bush to have concussion-like symptoms that persisted long after the accident.
While Busch currently has a guaranteed playoff spot thanks to his win in Kansas, he’s also at risk of being kicked out of the 16 drivers field. Currently, 14 drivers have at least one win, so if there are two more first-time winners before the 10-race qualifying begins, the individual race winner with the fewest points will be disqualified from the field.
Bush is in the bubble, and if he keeps wasting time, he may be the first to come out.
Busch’s injury highlights next-generation safety concerns
The next-generation race car, which NASCAR debuted in the Cup Series this season, has proven to be more durable than its predecessor, called the Car of Tomorrow.
Part of the durability has been achieved through increased stiffness, and now some drivers say they have safety concerns about the next-generation car in the wake of Bosch’s injury.
“I don’t think they understand how bad it is and actually how bad it can be when you bump into things,” Stewart-Haas #4 driver Kevin Harvick said of NASCAR officials during an interview reported by NBC Sports. “I don’t think anyone really understands, except for drivers who hit something, the violence that comes in the car. It doesn’t seem like a high enough priority to me.”
Harvick was involved in a crash while training earlier this season at Auto Club Speedway.
Trackhouse Racing’s 99th Chevrolet driver Daniel Suarez echoed Harvick’s concerns.
“It’s a little troubling that the impact our friend Kurt Bosch had on the Pocono had this kind of result,” Suarez said. “The effect didn’t seem that difficult, but NASCAR has a very large group of smart people working on it, and I’m sure they will find answers to the questions we have.”
NASCAR officials are reportedly considering changes to the SAFER fenders and are looking at safety improvements to driver helmets, similar to those made on NFL helmets to help prevent concussions.
Statistics provided by Racing Reference
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