What happened to Kurt Busch? Why did Kurt Busch retire?

What happened to Kurt Busch? Ahead of the 2023 Daytona 500 on Sunday, Kurt Busch offered an update on his health as he continues to recover from a July crash that left him with concussion-like symptoms.

Busch, 44, told reporters on Friday he has made progress in recent months but is still working to overcome issues stemming from his accident, which occurred after he hit a wall during qualifying at Pocono Raceway. The veteran driver also noted that his doctors expect him to make a full recovery before adding that his return to competition remains unknown at this time.

What happened to Kurt Busch?

Former NASCAR driver Kurt Busch seems to be living his best life. Or at least what life has given him. Two years ago, the 44-year-old former Cup series champion knew his time as a fulltime racer would be coming to an end. But a seemingly minor looking accident during qualifying at Pocono last summer ended his career, probably before he was ready.

Busch suffered a concussion in the Pocono accident and unable to get medical clearance was forced to end his career with 34 Cup wins and the 2004 Cup title. The 23XI Racing team he had signed with prior to the start of the 2022 season replaced Busch with driver Ty Gibbs for most of the remainder of last season while Busch worked on his recovery.

Busch returned to Daytona International Speedway this week for the season opening Daytona 500, a race he won in 2017 by the way, not as a competitor but as one of the Grand Marshals for the race itself alongside several NASCAR legends to help mark the sport’s 75th anniversary.

What happened to Kurt Busch

“I’ve been choked up about it since I found out about it earlier this week,” Busch said Friday at Daytona. “To reflect back on some of the accomplishments and some of the race teams I’ve been with. Then to sit there and, ‘Whoa, this is Richard Petty, this is Bobby Allison.’ This is a group of legends and true racers and to be part of it – honestly, I’m very humbled. I’m blown away by it and this is a very unique opportunity. I’m very excited about it and a little nervous of course.”

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As for his recovery Busch said that is still ongoing.

“I’m doing well,” Busch said. “Everyday life is normal. When I do my workouts with the physical therapist, we switch them up a little bit now onto a balance type of pad and it helps with creating core strength and it helps with my movements that I have to do and it’s fatiguing.

“I notice things that bring me up and then break me down when I have to do a day on and a day off now. Where I was pushing seven days a week to try to get back to the car and then in all honesty, I took December off. It was an emotional time and that was part of this process as well. But I’m doing well.”

With over 20 years of racing, and winning, for several teams in all three of NASCAR’s top tier series, Busch has a great deal of experience and knowledge of the sport and the industry, so it seemed a natural fit that he would slip in to the role of a consultant. And while it was a role he envisioned after his career was over. That vision however, came into view quicker than he anticipated.

“Everything just happened a year sooner than I expected them to and I’m happy with where everything sits,” he said. “Even like Ty Gibbs, with him jumping in the Monster Energy car last year and getting him up to speed in the Cup Series, Monster Energy always told me to put my arm around him because he was going to be the one for us later on.”

When, and if, he does get cleared to race could we see Kurt Busch back in a NASCAR cup car in the future?

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“That’s the thing, life moves forward. Contracts happen,” he said. “This is a big-time sport and there’s eight figures these days for sponsorship money. Those don’t just fall out of the sky.

“I’ve got a great relationship with Monster Energy and with Toyota and that’s why you see me here at the track, pushing hard and doing everything the same as I would be if I was racing. There’s a big announcement next week with Tyler Reddick at the Monster Energy headquarters, there’s a video today with Ty Gibbs. There’s a lot of fun stuff going on. Once there’s that green light, then there’s the chance to open the door for discussions so it’s a process. Can’t push one before the other.”

Despite the circumstances Busch said he’s fine with the way everything has played out since his accident.

“I told Denny (Hamlin) that I had one good year in me, and I signed a two-year deal,” he said. “This would have been that swan song, Kevin Harvick retirement tour, but I’m glad that he’s going to have that opportunity.”

“For me, I’ve always been that, believe it or not, that shy guy, that humble guy. I just like to go out and race cars. We’ll see where it pans out. Whether it was my decision or somebody from above, it doesn’t matter to me. I’m very happy. I’m complacent. And to have had this opportunity to race in this sport for 23 years and to hit all of the high notes and the low notes, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. It’s a Hollywood ending going for pole on your last lap ever right. I’m smiling about it and I’m happy with it.”

What happened to Kurt Busch 1

Busch added he’s starting to accept his new life.

“With things being fast-forwarded and now with it being the second week of being here at track in Daytona, we did the Coliseum last week,” he said. “There’s no question where my role is with the team, it’s everywhere with the team. And doing different interviews with the team and with our other sponsors. I’m doing everything the same, but not putting a helmet on and instead putting a radio on for practice, qualifying and the race.”

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He’s now ready for whatever the future holds for him, starting as a consultant. It seems he’s headed in the right direction and in fact, he’s already received validation.

“I’m doing exactly what I want to do,” he said. “I don’t want to own a race team. I was getting older, and I wasn’t going to drive full time. I have an unofficial PHD in this garage and to give back to young engineers, young crew members and just like yesterday on pit road, this one young engineer, last year was his first ever NASCAR race. He didn’t do any Truck Series stuff, no Xfinity things. He was standing there like a deer in the headlights. This year, he says to me, ‘Dude, there is so much to thank you for because I know exactly where I need to be and exactly what I need to do.’

“I think this kid will be a crew chief one day, but he’s got a long way to go. Just to see his growth in 365 days, that’s kind of where I thought I would be at this point in my career as well.”

FAQs

Why isn’t Kurt Busch racing NASCAR?

Kurt Busch won’t race NASCAR full-time in 2023 as he remains sidelined by concussion. Kurt Busch announced Saturday in his hometown of Las Vegas that he will not race full-time in 2023 after suffering from concussion-like symptoms since this summer.

Why did Kurt Busch retire?

Busch, who was forced to retire from full-time racing because of the lingering effects of a concussion he sustained in a wreck last season, was working the race as an analyst for Fox. He is also still under contract with 23XI Racing and helps as an advisor.

Who is replacing Kurt Busch in NASCAR?

NASCAR: Tyler Reddick to replace Kurt Busch at 23XI Racing in 2023.

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