To say his was the comeback story of the year is an understatement. Kyle Busch won the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup title on Sunday November 22. The win and the title for Busch came eight months after Busch was in a Daytona Beach hospital after breaking his foot and leg in a horrific crash in the season opening Xfinity race. Wednesday Busch talked about his comeback for the first time in his own words.
Writing on the Players Tribune, Busch said that usually in a crash there is little time to think about it. In his February crash however, it took four seconds of sliding across the grass. He could see the wall getting closer and closer. “This is going to suck,” he wrote.
In the aftermath of the crash, Busch said he knew he was injured, but had little time to think about that. His wracked car caught fire and he knew he needed to extricate himself. His legs wouldn’t work however.
“ I pulled myself out through the window with my arms. You don’t realize how hard this is until your legs don’t work,” he wrote. “I was sitting on the door of the car when the safety workers arrived and tried to take me out.”
While lying on the stretcher at the site of the crash, Busch figured his racing career was over. His thoughts were that he could always go back to his first job in racing, attaching decals to cars. At least he would still be in the garage. He wondered what people would be saying about him. “There’s ole’ Kyle, putting decals on that car he used to race. Damn shame,“ he wrote.
Busch woke up the next day, the Sunday of the season opening Daytona 500 and watched another driver get into the car he was supposed to race. He wrote that he and wife Samantha cried as they watched.
Doctors told Busch his recovery would take a year, “no way” he thought. The reality set in however when Busch first tried to stand with the help of his therapist. “It’s like I get hit by lightning. Just excruciating pain shooting up my body. I start to literally see stars. I almost pass out,” he wrote.
Busch returned home to find a ramp into his home to accommodate his wheelchair along with a hospital bed in the middle of his living room. That’s when the reality of his situation set in. His wife, in her third trimester of pregnancy was by his side. Busch said his motivation early on came from watching NASCAR on TV. He wasn’t a part of it and that was a big incentive to work on his rehab harder. He pictured the championship trophy. “I want that trophy,” he wrote. “It takes me two hours to take a shower right now, but I want that damn trophy.”
Most of his motivation however came from the expected birth of his first child. Busch said he didn’t want to be in a wheelchair in the corner of the delivery room when his wife gave birth. He wanted to be standing by her side holding her hand. That was “pure fire”.
Busch began pushing himself harder and harder and returned to racing in May, just over two months after his accident. With a ban on testing instituted by NASCAR, Busch had tested in a late model car, but the All-Star Race marked his first time back in a Sprint Cup car. Only a few days after that race, Busch’s son Brexton was born; Busch was with wife Samantha, standing by her side holding her hand.
He would miss the first 11 races of the season, but the day after he announced his return, NASCAR issued him a waiver to become Chase eligible. He won four races after his return, then raced his way inside the top 30 in points, survived the Elimination rounds and scored his fifth season win and his first title Sunday night at Homestead.
A the laps wound down and Busch took the lead he wrote that he could feel the pressure mounting and calmed himself by singing the theme song from his young sons favorite learning song “VocabuLarry.”
Who’s that swingin’ up and down?
Join him as he has some fun
Look at Larry, he’s so bright
Learns new words and gets them right
The song kept him focused in those final ten laps. He came to the checkered flag a race winner and the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion. It marked a comeback that few would have thought Busch could have done. With tears in his eyes the new champion could only think of one thing: “We did it. We did it.”
Busch will undergo two more surgeries in December shortly after he celebrates his title in Las Vegas. Few however doubt that he will be ready when the NASCAR Sprint Cup series kicks off its season in February 2016 at Daytona. Busch will be there to defend his title and take another shot at winning that “damn trophy.”
The full story, “Fire” can be read here.