Kyle Busch received a morale boost from a fellow competitor earlier this year. Saturday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Busch said the first driver he saw after his accident in February was three-time NASCAR champion Tony Stewart. Busch crashed at the end of the season opening Xfinity Series race at Daytona International Speedway on February 21. He broke his right leg and his left foot in the accident and missed the first 11 races of the NASCAR Sprint Cup season.
The hours after that crash were the worst of his like, Busch admitted. He along with those around him were gloomy and wondering what his future would hold. The immediate future was the first to deal with, as it quickly became evident that Busch would not be racing in the Daytona 500 the next day. It was something his Joe Gibbs Racing Sprint Cup crew had to react to.
“They were actually eating dinner when I crashed in the Xfinity race and they were like, ‘Well, we better go to the race track.’ “ Busch said. “They knew that there was work to be done to change a seat out and everything else. They didn’t even know who was going to be driving it until probably midnight that night. Then of course the weeks following, whether it was going to be David Ragan or whether it was going to be Erik Jones, obviously there was some finagling that had to happen there to get who was going to drive in the seat.”
The following day, Busch was in the hospital across the street from Daytona when the Daytona 500 was won by Joey Logano. Busch said he was felling down and still was unsure of what his future would be. The first driver to visit was Stewart, who in 2013 suffered a horrific injury of his own breaking his right leg in a sprint car crash.
“As soon as the Daytona 500 was over he was there,” Busch said. “He actually told everybody that was on his plane that they were going to wait. He was there for about four hours. We had a good talk, we had a good discussion about just what it was like and the process that he had to go through and how long it was probably going to be or what it was going to be.”
“In all reality, our injuries were the same but entirely different,” he added. “His was much more severe than mine. Just being able to talk with him, my mindset was okay. At first I was like, ‘I’m never going to race again and I don’t know what I’m going to do,’ all those things go through your mind.”
Busch made an amazing, and quick recovery. Three months after his accident, Busch was cleared to race again.
“You just continue to power through and listen to your doctors and those that are around you and of course my wife and the support system that I had,” Busch said. “I wouldn’t call it painless, there was certainly a lot of pain, but it went really, really well as far as you could say any injury healing goes. I was pretty pleased with everything.”
Busch should be pleased. He has won three of the last four races. Thanks to a waiver from NASCAR, Busch needed only to win one race to be eligible, that and make it inside the top 30 in points. After gaining 70 points in the last two weeks, 54 points separates Kyle Busch from 30th place in Sprint Cup Series points.
“We’ve done all we can do,” Busch said. “Three of the last four weeks we’ve won, led a lot of laps and we’ve gotten some good bonus points and whatnot. We have to continue to do that and run top-five, run top-10. Obviously the better you do, the more points you’re going to chunk off. That’s what we’re here to do. I feel like there’s an opportunity now to be able to completely kill the deficit probably two races before the cutoff, which is good. Earlier this year, four or five weeks ago I guess you’d say, it was going to be close to get there and get it done. The better we can do to be able to get that deficit knocked off sooner rather than later just allows us to be able to breathe a little easier and allows us to have some fun and get ready for the Chase.”
Busch will roll off ninth Sunday. He will also head into the race having won the Xfinity Series race with a last lap pass on Saturday. The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series returns to the track Sunday for the Crown Royal Presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard (3:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN/Live Extra).