Kyle Busch said there’s no timeframe for returning to NASCAR after breaking his right leg and fracturing his left foot in a Feb. 21 crash at Daytona International Speedway. But he hopes to be back in his No. 18 Toyota when the Sprint Cup circuit returns to Daytona for the July 4 holiday weekend.
“First and foremost, I’ve got to please my doctors, and they say my recovery is going faster than they expected,” Busch said Wednesday during his first news conference since the crash. “They won’t release me a timetable. It’s week by week and what I can show them I can do.”
Busch walked onto a stage at Joe Gibbs Racing, sat behind a Macbook computer and calmly dissected the wreck frame by frame, which happened during the Xfinity Series season opener. He revealed his Toyota was traveling 90 mph on its impact with the inside wall and said the crash , which registered 90 Gs, was the heaviest of his NASCAR career.
The wall was unprotected by a SAFER barrier, prompting safety reviews for Daytona and virtually every track on the circuit. Many have reacted by adding SAFER and tire barriers.
“I’m not going to say I’m happy about the wall I hit not being protected,” Busch said. “I’m disappointed that wall wasn’t covered, but I’m encouraged by the steps and actions the tracks have taken.
“If there’s a wall that needs a tire barrier, put one there. But it can’t be constructed overnight. I understand that. We’re all hoping sooner rather than later.”
Busch said he was conscious throughout the crash and knew his leg was broken upon impact. He said he tried to turn the car into a slide and was surprised when the car continued straight without scrubbing off speed. The car was traveling at 176 mph when it left the racing surface and Busch slammed the brakes.
He said his left foot was on the brake pedal and his right leg was “floating” when he hit the wall.
Busch said the crash began when he tried to push JGR teammate Erik Jones through a gap. Jones began to spin, and the turbulent air caused Busch to lose control without making contact with another car.
“The wreck was essentially all my fault,” Busch said. “I was being greedy.”
Because NASCAR restricts testing in its national series, Busch said he will test a car from his Late Model team when he receives clearance from doctors. “I probably will do a couple of tests at least and see how it goes to determine my readiness for Cup,” he said.
Busch is hoping to receive a waiver from NASCAR that would make him eligible for the Chase for the Sprint Cup if he can win a race and stay in the top 30 in the standings.
Though his mobility still is limited, he seemed in good spirits.
“I feel OK,” he said. “It’s week by week, but I’m coming along well. I’m working out every day in the gym.
Busch said NASCAR still was examining his wrecked car for possible improvements, but he credited his safety devices in the cockpit.
“From the knees up, there was not a mark on me, and there was not a neckache or a headache,” he said.
Busch said among the first visitors at Halifax Hospital in Daytona Beach, Fla., was his former JGR teammate, Tony Stewart, who stayed for a few hours after the Daytona 500.
There is a December surgery scheduled for Busch to remove a plate and screws from his left foot.