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Concussed NASCAR champion Kurt Busch walks away from the sport

LAS VEGAS — Kurt Busch, who is still trying to navigate his way through the concussion he suffered three months ago and advised by doctors to get out of a race car, will not compete full-time in 2023.

The 44-year-old NASCAR champion made his announcement Saturday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, his home track and where he launched his arena career as a kid. He choked up when he said doctors told him “it’s better if I ‘shut it up'”.

“I know I’m not 100 percent in my ability to go out and race at the highest level in the NASCAR Cup Series,” Busch said. “They are the best of the best drivers, and lately I haven’t been feeling my best. My long-term health is the number one priority and I don’t think committing myself at this stage to competing for a championship l next year is either in my best interest or the best interest of the team.”

Tyler Reddick will replace Busch in the No. 45 Toyota at 23XI Racing next season. Reddick has been signed to the team for 2024 but is no longer needed to complete his contract at Richard Childress Racing as RCR have signed Kyle Busch, Kurt’s younger brother and two-time Cup champion, for next season.

“I will 100% be back, I promise,” Busch said. “If I’m allowed, maybe you’ll see me at a few selected races” next season.

Reddick said the circumstances surrounding his early release from CPR aren’t ideal, but he’s happy to start with his new team. Reddick will team up with Bubba Wallace.

“Racing is a huge challenge, being competitive is a challenge,” Reddick said. “I would have accepted it and taken on any challenge that came my way. But for me, I’m really happy to start the journey with (23XI) a year earlier and we can get to work.”

Busch was injured in a routine crash in July that exposed a design flaw in NASCAR’s new Next Gen car. He has so far missed 13 consecutive races. Alex Bowman, who was also injured last month, has missed two straight games with a concussion and said this week he will be out for at least three more races.

Busch is the last active driver to take part in a Cup race against the late Dale Earnhardt, and the last driver to take part in the first 10-driver race for the Cup in 2004, the year he upset the Hendrick juggernaut Motorsports and won his only title.

Busch’s retirement leaves Kevin Harvick as the last active driver to race when NASCAR’s top series was called the Winston Cup Series.

23XI praised Busch’s contributions to the sophomore team.

“We knew he was going to elevate our organization in so many ways,” the team said. “From earning 23XI our first playoff spot with his victory at Kansas Speedway to the many hours spent off the track to help grow our program, Kurt has made us better.

“This season has taken an unexpected turn with his injury. Despite the unfortunate circumstances, Kurt has not ceased to be a true professional and a trusted teammate. We fully support Kurt’s decision to focus on his health and are grateful for his guidance as our team builds a strong foundation for the future.”

He is in his second season with 23XI Racing and team co-owner Denny Hamlin said the organization and Toyota want Busch to stay with the team. He is under contract until next season with 23XI.

“Unfortunate circumstances led Kurt to a difficult decision, but we know he will continue to contribute to the overall program at Toyota, TRD and 23XI Racing,” said David Wilson, president of Toyota Racing Development. “He brings a tremendous amount of knowledge and first-hand experience of the Championship to his team and fellow Toyota competitors. We are here to support Kurt in this next chapter of his career and look forward to continuing to work alongside him. .”

Busch made his Cup debut in 2000 with Roush Racing in a Ford, then raced all season as a rookie in 2001. He was let go after five tumultuous seasons with Roush – a stint that included his 2004 title – and joined Team Penske driving a Dodge in 2006.

His relationship with Penske also ended badly after the 2011 season and Busch moved to Phoenix Racing to drive a Chevrolet for James Finch for one season, then went to Furniture Row Racing in 2013 where he revitalized his career – and started to mature. the track with his notorious temperament.

Busch joined Stewart-Haas Racing in 2014 and was suspended by NASCAR for the first three races of 2015 for domestic violence allegations made by an ex-girlfriend. He then landed with Chip Ganassi Racing and finally 23XI to race a Toyota in 2021.

He is one of the few drivers to compete and win for all NASCAR manufacturers. Busch and his brother join Bobby and Terry Labonte as the only siblings to win Cup titles.

“To have spent 23 years in this sport and having a phenomenal career, and not being able to come back full time is obviously the order of the doctors, hoping that he can still make peace with it all and be happy with everything he’s going to do forward,” Kyle Busch said. “He’s healthy, he can be normal, as normal as the Busches are, for the rest of his life and that’s good.”

Kurt Busch won 34 races in 776 starts over 23 years, including the Daytona 500 in 2017 with SHR and sponsor Monster, which has stuck with him to this day. He said he would remain an ambassador for Monster and approached Fox Sports to further the television work.

“For more than two decades we have had the privilege of watching Kurt Busch compete. He has proven himself to be a champion on the tour, but perhaps just as important, he has become a true ambassador for the sport,” said said NASCAR President Steve Phelps. said. “Kurt’s drive to improve the future of motorsport has set him apart. We are delighted that he will remain in our sport as a leader and trusted resource. Kurt’s unparalleled passion for racing gives us the hopefully we’ll see him again in a race car.”

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FILE – Kurt Busch walks in the pits before qualifying for the NASCAR Series auto race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Sunday, Aug. 15, 2021, in Indianapolis. Busch announced on Saturday, October 15, 2022 that he will miss the remainder of this season due to a concussion and will not compete full-time in 2023. The 44-year-old made his announcement at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, his home track and where he launched his arena career as a child. He choked up when he said doctors told him “it’s better if I ‘shut up'”. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings, File)



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FILE – Driver Kurt Busch smiles as he walks down pit road before a NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Sunday, Oct. 10, 2021, in Concord, NC Busch announced on Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022, he will miss the remainder this season with a concussion and will not compete full-time in 2023. The 44-year-old made his announcement at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, his home track and where he launched his arena career when he was child. He choked up when he said doctors told him “it’s better if I ‘shut up'”. (AP Photo/Matt Kelley, File)



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FILE – Kurt Busch celebrates in victory lane after winning a NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kan., Sunday, May 15, 2022. Busch announced Saturday, Oct. 15 that he will miss the remainder of this season with a concussion and will not compete full-time in 2023. The 44-year-old made his announcement at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, his home track and where he launched his arena career as a child. He choked up when he said doctors told him “it’s better if I ‘shut up'”. (AP Photo/Colin E. Braley, File)




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