Kyle Busch says his return was ‘faster than anyone would have anticipated, even the doctors’

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Calling it an “exciting day and one that not a lot of folks would have thought (possible so soon) that night in February in the hospital,’’ Kyle Busch says he’s ready to get back to racing.

Busch announced Tuesday morning that he’ll return to the Sprint Cup Series for this weekend’s Sprint All-Star race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. It will mark his first race since he suffered a fractured right leg and left foot in a Feb. 21 crash in the Xfinity race at Daytona International Speedway. He was injured when his car struck an unprotected wall.

Busch said in a conference call with reporters Tuesday afternoon that his return was “faster than anyone would have anticipated, even the doctors.’’

Even so, it’s the longest the 30-year-old has been out of a car since he started racing at age 13.

Busch twice tested a Late Model car before he was cleared by NASCAR’s medical team Monday. Busch said he’s had “good dialogue” with NASCAR in regards to a waiver for him to compete in the Chase if he wins any of the next 15 points races but was not aware if NASCAR had made a decision on what it would do. He also said that Erik Jones will be on standby if he needs to get out of the car.

Busch admitted there were times he hoped to be back by Talladega (May 3) or Kansas (May 9).

“There’s been good days and there’s been bad days,’’ he said. “I definitely would have said a few weeks ago that I’m probably ready for a return at Talladega or Kansas, but then there’s been a day or two within two weeks where I was like, “Oh man, I’m glad I didn’t decide to come back, I’m glad we waited a little bit longer.’ Some day you might feel a little bit worse after too much therapy or too much whatever that just brings on some pain symptoms.

“For me, getting into the All-Star race I felt like was a good idea just based off the fact of being able to get in, get behind the wheel, being able to go 200 miles an hour again, just get a small taste of it and make sure that everything is good, the body is fine … which I anticipate it to be. If there are things I need to work on, maybe I can work on during the week and get myself prepared for the (Coca-Cola) 600.’’

Busch said he did five or more hours of therapy some days to help speed his recovery.

“Physically, this is obviously the biggest challenge,’’ Busch said he’s faced in his career. “Even mentally in the beginning. It was a tough challenge to get myself back into raceable condition and, obviously, you want to be back as soon as you can be, but things will only happen so fast. I feel like this is a great accomplishment for myself … just to be able to come back as quickly as I’ve been able to.’’

As part of his recovery, he got back into his Late Model car and tested since NASCAR’s testing ban prevents Camping World, Xfinity and Sprint Cup teams.

He said he ran more than 300 laps in his first test at Greenville-Pickens Speedway and did a second test last week at Hickory Motor Speedway.

“It was shaking the rust off for me but also just proving that I can handle brake pressures and clutch with the (left) foot and making sure the (right) leg wouldn’t tense up or spasm in the racecar,’’ Busch said. “It worked good to simulate as much of the racing conditions as we could.

“The brake pressure I felt was probably most comparable to Dover, Charlotte being even lighter than what Dover would be. I was the only car on the track, so you couldn’t simulate racing side-by-side, but we did have random cautions in there, practice coming in and out of the pits, applying sudden brake pressures, things of that nature to simulate, as best as we could, race conditions to provide a good look at how I would be able to respond, how well my body would respond.’’

Busch said he’ll focus on Cup for now and work his way back into driving in the Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series.

“Going forward, the game plan right now is to focus on the Cup Series for the time being,’’ he said. “I think that will be enough on my plate for the next several weeks. I plan to work my way back to multiple series. But it’s a process on its own, and we’ll be smart about that. We’ll just see how that comes.’’

Busch’s return is timed nearly to when his wife is scheduled to deliver their first child, a boy. Busch said her due date is May 22. What if she goes into labor Saturday?

“My plan has always been to be there for the birth,’’ he said. “The good thing about Charlotte is we have more flexibility being here than if we were on the other side of the country.

“We’ll see what happens the next few days. We’re definitely ready for Baby Busch to enter the world. We couldn’t be more excited as we get closer and the anticipation rises here. We’re going hour by hour right now. It could be any hour that he decides he wants to be here.

Sponsor adds more races in 2023 with Josh Berry

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Jarrett Companies will increase the number of races it will sponsor Josh Berry‘s No. 8 JR Motorsports ride in 2023, the Xfinity Series team announced Monday.

Jarrett Companies will sponsor Berry in six races after serving as the primary sponsor in three races in 2022. Those six races will be Phoenix (March 11), Richmond (April 1), Dover (April 29), Atlanta (July 8), Indianapolis (Aug. 12) and Texas (Sept. 23).

The deal gives Berry at least 26 races with sponsorship for next season. Bass Pro Shops will serve as the primary sponsor of Berry’s car in 11 races in 2023. Tire Pros is back with JRM and will sponsor Berry in nine races in the upcoming season.

Berry, who reached the Xfinity title race and finished fourth in the points, will have a new crew chief in 2023. Taylor Moyer will take over that role with Mike Bumgarner serving as JRM’s director of competition.

The 2023 Xfinity season begins Feb. 18 at Daytona International Speedway.

 

Where are they now? Buddy Parrott enjoying down time

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Buddy Parrott played outsized roles in two of the most dramatic races in NASCAR history.

Now 83 years old and retired from the sport since 2001, Parrott looks back on those two days as highlights of a career that began in the early 1970s.

In the 1990 Daytona 500, champion driver Dale Earnhardt seemed on course to end his frustration in NASCAR’s biggest event. He held the lead roaring down the backstretch on the last lap. Suddenly, Earnhardt slowed with a blown tire.

The lead was inherited by Derrike Cope, who charged to the checkered flag to score one of racing’s biggest upsets.

Parrott was Cope’s crew chief.

MORE: NASCAR Power Rankings: Memorable quotes through the years

In 1984, Richard Petty edged Cale Yarborough to win the summer race at Daytona International Speedway. It was Petty’s 200th – and final – win.

Parrott was Petty’s crew chief.

Those victories were high marks in a long pit-road career that saw Parrott’s drivers win dozens of races. He worked with, among others, Darrell Waltrip, Rusty Wallace, Jeff Burton and Petty and for team owners Jack Roush and Roger Penske.

Parrott remains active at 83, although he admits to having moved to a slower gear.

“I haven’t been living on the edge,” Parrott told NBC Sports. “I’ve been taking it really easy. I told my sons when you get to be 80 you can do anything you want because basically you’ve already done it.”

MORE: NASCAR, ARCA 2023 schedules

His strongest current connection to NASCAR is as a voter in the annual Hall of Fame balloting.

After more than 20 years roaming pit roads as a crew chief, Parrott moved into a general manager role at Roush Racing in 1997. He retired four years later and didn’t look back.

“I finally told Jack one day, ‘I don’t have time to ride my motorcycle,’ ” Parrott said. “He looked at me and said, ‘What do you want to do about it?’ I said, ‘I’m ready to retire.’ He told me I could work whatever schedule I wanted, but I decided that was it. I didn’t have a going-away thing or whatever.”

Parrott spent much of the next 15 years traveling with his wife, Judy, who died in 2016, and playing with his grandchildren.

“I had a great time in retirement because Judy was ready and I was ready,” he said. “We had a lot of fun. We’d go to Florida for two and three months at a time. I’m so happy that I didn’t hang on and go to the shop every day and try to find something to do. I spent that time with Judy, and we had 16 years of good retirement.”

Parrott, a native of Gastonia, N.C., lives in Statesville, N.C. His sons, Todd and Brad, also were NASCAR crew chiefs.

MORE: Jody Ridley’s Dover win an upset for the ages

Parrott is perhaps best remembered as crew chief for Rusty Wallace, Team Penske and the No. 2 black cars sponsored by Miller Lite. From 1992-94, they won 19 races and were consistently competitive at the front.

“I still get a lot of cards sent to me to sign from those years,” Parrott said. “I can say that was some of the happiest times I had. Those years with Rusty – and then with Jack Roush – really stand out. And who in the hell could not have fun having a beer sponsor?”

 

 

NASCAR Awards to air at 8 p.m. ET Saturday on Peacock

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Joey Logano didn’t need much time to answer the question.

Who would the two-time Cup champion want to introduce him at the NASCAR Awards?

Racing icon Mario Andretti, Logano immediately said. 

And there was Andretti on the stage at the Music City Center introducing Logano, the 2022 Cup champion. Watch that and the rest of the night’s festivities at 8 p.m. ET Saturday on Peacock. You can order Peacock here.

MORE: See the red carpet scene

MORE: Sport shows support for Gibbs family at NASCAR Awards

NBC Sports’ Marty Snider and Kim Coon co-hosted the show along with Fox Sports’ Kaitlyn Vincie. The Cup, Xfinity and Truck champions were honored. Xfinity champion Ty Gibbs, whose father died hours after Gibbs won the Xfinity title last month, received a standing ovation and thanked the industry for its support.

The highlight of the night for Logano was having Andretti on stage to introduce him.

“He’s just been a great role model for me, not only as a racer, but as a person for so long,” Logano said afterward. “I had his picture on my wall. I looked at Mario Andretti before I went to sleep every night as a kid. I thought it was the coolest thing that he signed it to me.”

NASCAR Awards and Champion Celebration
Cup champion Joey Logano on stage with racing icon Mario Andretti during the NASCAR Awards in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Logano and Andretti have gotten to know each other through the years. Logano ran a throwback car that honored Andretti at Darlington Raceway in 2015 and 2021.

But none of that compared to being on stage with Andretti.

“That’s still like a pinch-me moment,” Logano said. “It’s Mario Andretti. He’s the man. The fact that he knows my name I think is really, really cool.”

Catch the NASCAR Awards at 8 p.m. ET Saturday on Peacock

Sport shows support for Gibbs family at NASCAR Awards

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The NASCAR community showed its support Thursday at the NASCAR Awards for the Gibbs family, grieving the death of Coy Gibbs on Nov. 6. 

During his interview on stage, car owner Joe Gibbs thanked the NASCAR industry for its support. (The NASCAR Awards show airs at 8 p.m. ET Saturday on Peacock).

Coy Gibbs, son of Joe Gibbs and father of Xfinity champion Ty Gibbs, died hours after seeing Ty Gibbs win the series title last month at Phoenix Raceway. Coy Gibbs, 49, was the vice chairman and chief operating officer at Joe Gibbs Racing.

Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR chief operating officer, introduced Ty Gibbs at the NASCAR Awards and noted that “everyone gathered tonight is all a part of the NASCAR family, and I know I speak for everyone that the entire NASCAR family is 100% percent behind this young man.”

Ty Gibbs received a standing ovation.

“Thank you,” he told the crowd, “that means a lot.”

Ty Gibbs spoke for less than a minute, thanking his team, sponsors, fans and the NASCAR community.

He closed his speech by saying “And thanks to my family. I love you. I hope everybody has a great offseason. Enjoy it. Thank you for all the support. Thank you for all the claps. I really appreciate it.”

Ty Gibbs spoke to the media earlier Thursday. Asked how he was doing, he said: “I’ve been doing good. Thank you for asking and definitely appreciate you guys. We’ve been doing good, doing a lot of stuff this week. … It’s been fun to experience this stuff.”

Asked about Joe Gibbs addressing the organization after Coy’s death, Ty Gibbs politely said: “For right now, I’m not going to touch on any of that subject at all. I’m just going to stick with all the racing questions and go from there.”

Cup champion Joey Logano said he spent time with 20-year-old Ty Gibbs on Wednesday at the champion’s dinner.

Logano said he told Ty Gibbs that “we’re here for you. You need something reach out.”