News Analysis: Kurt Busch withdraws NASCAR playoff waiver

Kurt Busch
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Kurt Busch will miss the start of the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs, and withdraws his medical waiver, as he recovers from injury.

Kurt Busch announced some major news on Thursday. A quick look at the announcement, its significance, and the unanswered questions.

The News

23XI Racing announced that Busch will miss the start of the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs, as he continues recovering from concussion-like symptoms. He missed the last five races after a wreck in qualifying at Pocono Raceway, last month.

More significantly, the team withdrew the medical waiver. Which takes him out of a playoff spot that he earned with a win at Kansas Speedway in May.

“As much as I wanted and hoped to be able to get back in the No. 45 car to make a playoff run with our team, it’s still not the right time for me,” Busch said. “In addition to not being cleared to return to racing, I know that I am not ready to be back in the car. I respect the sport of NASCAR, my fellow drivers and the fans too much to take up a playoff spot if I know I can’t compete for a championship, this season. The decision was not an easy one, but I know it is the right thing to do. I will continue to take time to heal and strengthen as I prepare to be back in the car and will do all I can to help 23XI continue the success we have had this season.”

Ty Gibbs will continue as the substitute driver in the No. 45 Toyota for Saturday at Daytona International Speedway.

Significance

On a scale of 1-10, this is an eight.

It ranks high because it shifts the cutoff spot for this weekend’s regular-season finale down a spot. Ryan Blaney can earn his spot based on points, barring he’s caught up in a wreck or disqualified. Martin Truex Jr. goes from outside the playoffs to holding the final spot. Furthermore, with a 183-point cushion over Erik Jones, he only misses the playoffs now if there’s a new winner.

It’s not a 10, however, because as the races Busch missed added up, missing the playoffs became more of a possibility.

Unanswered questions

First, what does this mean for Busch’s future? I’d be surprised if he never straps into a car, again, but concussions aren’t something to take lightly.

Second, who drives the No. 45, going forward? If I were a betting man, I’d say Gibbs.

The answers to those questions will come in time. NASCAR returns this weekend with the regular season finale at Daytona International Speedway.

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