23XI Racing’s Kurt Busch has provided an update ahead of the Cup Series race weekend at Michigan International Speedway. He confirmed he will miss his third consecutive race due to concussion-like symptoms he first experienced at Pocono Raceway.
“While I am continuing to make improvements every day and can’t wait to get back in the No. 45 Monster Energy Toyota Camry TRD, I have yet to be cleared to return to competition and will not be participating in the NASCAR Cup Series race this weekend at Michigan International Speedway,” Busch said in an August 3 statement.
“I know Ty [Gibbs] will continue to do a great job representing 23XI and the No. 45 Monster Energy team in Michigan. I am working hard to get back to 100% and it’s my hope to be back in the car at Richmond Raceway. Thanks to everyone for the continued support and I look forward to being back on track soon.”
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Gibbs Will Make His Third Start in the No. 45
23XI Racing owner Denny Hamlin made an appearance on the “Door, Bumper, Clear” podcast after the trip to Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and he addressed Busch’s lingering health concerns. He confirmed that Gibbs will continue to serve as the replacement driver as long as necessary.
This trip to Michigan International Speedway will mark Gibbs’ third consecutive start in the No. 45 Toyota, as well as his first Cup Series start at the two-mile track after he previously competed at Pocono and Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He only has one start at the track, which took place in the Xfinity Series.
Gibbs made his debut at MIS during a part-time season in 2021 in which he shared the No. 54 with Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, and Christopher Bell among other drivers. One of his 18 starts took place in the Irish Hills.
Gibbs started 10th overall in the No. 54 Toyota Supra, and he worked his way into contention early. He finished second overall in the first two stages, but he fell back to 13th overall after a late incident in Turn 2.
Gibbs pushed too hard on the outside, lost control, and backed the No. 54 into the wall. He rebounded back into the field, overcorrected, and then hit the wall again. This incident sent the race into overtime, which led to AJ Allmendinger securing the win.
Busch Remains Playoff-Eligible After the Pocono Crash
The absence means that the No. 45 team has not had its full-time driver in control for some important regular-season races, but Busch remains eligible to participate in the playoffs once he returns to the driver’s seat.
When NASCAR announced that Busch would miss the Pocono race due to his crash in qualifying, there were immediate questions about his eligibility. The sanctioning body provided confirmation that he would receive a playoff waiver that tentatively would keep his spot in the 16-driver field.
As long as there aren’t more than 16 winners, Busch will still be able to return to the No. 45 Toyota for the playoffs and fight for a spot in the Round of 12 and beyond. The only change would be if there were more winners than spots, which would take Busch’s points into account.