Kurt Busch and his road to recovery

LONG POND, PENNSYLVANIA - JULY 23: Kurt Busch, driver of the #45 McDonald's Toyota, works with a crew member during qualifying for the NASCAR Cup Series M&M's Fan Appreciation 400 at Pocono Raceway on July 23, 2022 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images)

While he appeared at the NMPA banquet to accept an award, Sunday, Kurt Busch addressed his road to recovery from a concussion.

CONCORD, N.C. — Kurt Busch stood at the podium at the Great Wolf Lodge, Sunday, before members of the National Motorsports Press Association. Well-dressed and with his hair slicked back, he accepted the NMPA’s Pocono Spirit Award for his work with the charity, “Window of Hope.” When the luncheon concluded, he stuck around for a photo shoot with his award and casually talked with those in attendance.

If you saw him, you wouldn’t realize he’s still recovering from a concussion sustained in July.

After a qualifying wreck at Pocono Raceway sidelined him for the rest of the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season, Busch’s road to recovery from the concussion has centered on vestibular balance, hearing, and vision issues. He said,

“95% (of) daily life is fine. It’s when I elevate my heart rate, get it to race mode, and I move and do my movements left to right and twist my head that the lights still get dizzy for me.”

What’s gone into Kurt Busch’s recovery?

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 09: NASCAR driver Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 45 car for the 23XI racing team speaks to the media during a press conference at the Atwater Tavern on June 09, 2022 in San Francisco, California. The press conference is being held prior to the Toyota/Save Mart 350 NASCAR Cup Series race at the Sonoma Raceway on June 12. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO – JUNE 9: NASCAR driver Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 45 car for the 23XI racing team speaks to the media during a press conference at the Atwater Tavern on June 9, 2022, in San Francisco. The press conference is being held prior to the Toyota/Save Mart 350 NASCAR Cup Series race at the Sonoma Raceway on June 12. Photo: Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

A team of neurologists at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and a hospital in Charlotte have put him on different workouts. If he suffers a setback, however, he has said he has to reset.

“I keep moving up through. So it’s a process of something with a timeline. I don’t know.”

As a result of this timeline, NASCAR hasn’t cleared Busch to return to active competition. If Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s concussion recovery from 2016 provides a timeline, then Busch isn’t too far off schedule. Concussions, however, affect people differently and recovery isn’t the same for everybody.

For the time being, he remains with 23XI Racing as a mentor for Bubba Wallace and Tyler Reddick, and hopes to run a partial schedule in the 2023 season. If he doesn’t race again, then he ends his career with 34 wins — 25th on NASCAR’s all-time wins list — and one championship. So he’s easily going into the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Furthermore, his life and career are a future ESPN “30 for 30” story in the making.

Ultimately, what’s most important is that Kurt Busch can still live a healthy, normal life. Which is more important than strapping into a race car, again.

Featured Image Credit: Logan Riely/Getty Images