The No. 45 Toyota Camry TRD will have a new driver for the NASCAR Cup Series race at Pocono Raceway (3 p.m. ET, USA Network). Kurt Busch will sit out with concussion-like symptoms due to a hard crash in qualifying.
“This morning, Kurt Busch met with doctors in the infield care center for further evaluation following his accident during yesterday’s qualifying session,” NASCAR said in a statement. “Following the evaluation, Kurt Busch has not been cleared to race in today’s NASCAR Cup Series event at Pocono Raceway.”
According to an additional announcement from 23XI Racing, Ty Gibbs will step in as the injury replacement for Busch. The full-time Xfinity Series driver for Joe Gibbs Racing will make his debut in a Cup Series car while pulling double-duty at Pocono Raceway.
Busch currently has a spot in the playoffs due to securing the win at Kansas Speedway. With him missing the race at Pocono, there were some concerns about his eligibility. However, NASCAR said that it would grant a playoff waiver to Busch, which will keep him in contention.
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Busch Had a Hard Wreck During Qualifying
The reason for Busch’s absence is due to a wreck as he was fighting for the Busch Light Pole. He posted a fast enough lap during Round 1 of qualifying and secured his spot among the top 10 drivers. He then went out for his second lap and tried to surpass his previous time.
Busch was on his second lap when he lost control of the No. 45 in Turn 3. The rear of his stock car slammed hard into the wall and brought the lap to an end. Busch had to climb from the Toyota Camry TRD and take the mandatory trip to the infield care center, where he underwent evaluation and was initially cleared.
While Busch spent time with the medical staff, the track crew towed the No. 45 back to the garage for its own evaluation. 23XI Racing later said that the team would have to go to the backup car for the Cup Series race, which would put Busch at the rear of the field.
Gibbs Previously Expressed a Desire to Drive a Cup Series Car
The driver of the No. 54, who has four wins in 2022, will make his debut in a Cup Series car after he previously expressed a desire to get some seat time. He will just do so for an unexpected reason.
Prior to the early-May race at Darlington Raceway, Gibbs met with media members. He explained that he wanted to get behind the wheel of the Next Gen car for some part-time starts so that he could gain some experience. This would be crucial considering that he has long been the center of conversation surrounding possible Xfinity Series drivers moving up to the Cup Series.
“I haven’t heard anything,” Gibbs said on May 6 about making some part-time starts. “I would definitely like to run in the [No.] 18, but they chose somebody different. I don’t really know.
“I feel like with all this new car and how completely different it is, I feel like it would be good for me to get into it as soon as I can just to learn from it. But at the same time, I’m not making decisions, and I’m in Xfinity. I just want to do the best I can and win as much as I can.”
Gibbs drove the No. 54 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota GR Supra during the Xfinity Series race at Pocono on July 23. He led three laps and finished second behind JR Motorsports driver Noah Gragson after a battle in the final run to the checkered flag. Now he will test himself in a Next Gen car with no practice time.