The No. 45 Toyota Camry TRD will not see the return of Kurt Busch at Richmond Raceway. The 2004 Cup Series champion has confirmed that he will miss his fourth consecutive race due to a crash at Pocono Raceway.
“Brain injury recovery doesn’t always take a linear path,” Busch said in a statement on August 10. “I’ve been feeling well in my recovery, but this week I pushed to get my heart rate and body in a race simulation type environment, and it’s clear that I’m not ready to be back in the race car.
“This was by far the hardest week emotionally because I do feel the progression of recovery, but racing requires an extreme physical and mental effort, and my body is not 100% able to sustain the intense race conditions.
“I am making progress and pushing hard each day,” Busch continued. “I am encouraged by my team of doctors, and we will continue to do everything it takes to get me to 100% to return to competition. Thanks to everyone for the continued support and best of luck to the 45 team and Ty this weekend in Richmond.”
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Ty Gibbs Remains in a Unique Position
Gibbs, who races full-time in the Xfinity Series, has been the fill-in driver for 23XI Racing. He has made three starts in the No. 45 Toyota Camry TRD while posting a career-best finish of 10th at Michigan International Speedway.
Gibbs remains in a unique position. He doesn’t have a set schedule featuring Cup Series starts. Instead, he just has to wait for the call informing him that he will need to head to whatever track is next and take over for Busch.
“But for me, I’m just here, and if I can drive, I can drive,” Gibbs explained during an August 9 appearance on “The Dale Jr. Download” podcast. “If I can’t drive, I want to learn. I practice the simulator making sure I’m just… in case I get the call.”
Gibbs added that there is not a set date each week when he will receive the call to replace Busch. It may happen early in the week, or it will be more of a last-minute situation like at Pocono Raceway. His job is just to make sure that he is ready by studying film and working in the simulator.
Gibbs Has an Opportunity Ahead of Him
Gibbs continues to gain experience in the Cup Series cars, albeit for a reason that nobody likes, and he seemingly makes strides each week. Gibbs even told Dale Earnhardt Jr. that he could have finished fifth or sixth at Michigan International Raceway if he hadn’t sped on pit road during the final stage.
Gibbs will now have a prime opportunity to achieve success. He will head to Richmond Raceway, a track where Toyota has been particularly strong. This includes the April 3 race when Christopher Bell led 63 laps, Martin Truex Jr. led 80, and Denny Hamlin won.
Gibbs does not have Cup Series experience at Richmond Raceway, but he has made moves at the short track in the Xfinity Series. His first start at the track resulted in a seventh-place finish and then he followed it up by winning in his second start.