Team owner Joe Gibbs unsure when Kyle Busch will return
For the first time since 2000, the Daytona 500 will not have a Busch brother in it.
Kyle Busch suffered a compound fracture of the lower right leg and a broken left foot in Saturday’s Xfinity Series race at Daytona International Speedway, while older brother Kurt Busch was indefinitely suspended by NASCAR Friday night for an alleged act of domestic violence last September at Dover International Speedway.
Gibbs said Sunday he doesn’t know how long his driver will be out.
"As far as time or length, I haven’t really … I don’t think I have a really good understanding of that with the doctors and everything," said Gibbs. "I think we’re just going to pray for him to bounce back."
Gibbs said Kyle is eager to return.
"He’s already telling Sam (wife), ‘I just want to get back to racing,’" Gibbs said. "He has a great spirit about things like that."
Kyle is being replaced in the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota by two-time defending NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion Matt Crafton. Gibbs said there are no decisions about a replacement driver beyond the Daytona 500, nor does he know yet how many races Kyle can miss and still be eligible for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
"He (Crafton) is a veteran guy," said Gibbs. "We thought he was the perfect fit. … We brought him down last night and he told me today, ‘Hey, everything’s perfect.’"
Busch was visited at the hospital Saturday by a number of drivers, NASCAR officials and sponsors already at the hospital, Gibbs said.
And the support for a speedy return has been strong.
"Kyle Busch is a key member of our Toyota NASCAR family and it goes without saying that everyone at Toyota and TRD (Toyota Racing Development), U.S.A. has Kyle in their thoughts and prayers," said Ed Laukes, vice president marketing, performance and guest experience for Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), U.S.A. "Kyle is as tough a competitor as you’ll find in motorsports, and I’m confident he’ll recover quickly and return to the track with an even greater passion to win."
Regan Smith, last year’s runner-up in the Xfinity Series, will fill in for Kurt Busch in the No. 41 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet on a one-race deal.
SHR has not announced plans for next week’s race at Atlanta and beyond, though a team spokesman confirmed to FOXSports.com Sunday morning that the team will race next week.
"I got an opportunity to hop in a race car that’s more than capable of winning the Daytona 500, and I want to make the most of that opportunity," said Smith.
Asked about the future, Smith added, "I’m just purely focused on the Daytona 500 right now and helping these guys get through this weekend. Outside of that, I don’t know anything. We’ve got our plate pretty full just getting ready."
Meanwhile, Daytona International Speedway has put a tire barrier in front of the wall where Kyle hit, and will add SAFER barriers there.
"We know what fixes these walls: Put a wall in front of it," said Kevin Harvick, the reigning Sprint Cup champion and 2007 Daytona 500 winner.
One other note: Kyle Busch’s name is still on the roof of his car, but Kurt’s has been removed from his car.