Kyle Busch made the statement on his Twitter page Tuesday morning, announcing his return to NASCAR competition. He included a video (below) which shows him as he gloves up, zips into his M&Ms firesuit and walks out of his hauler in full racing gear. The video ends with the words, #Rowdy Returns May 16.
The Joe Gibbs Racing driver was sidelined before the Sprint Cup season began after an accident in the season-opening XFINITY event at Daytona International Speedway sent his car into a non-SAFER barrier wall. Busch suffered a compound fracture of his right leg and a fractured right foot.
Busch has received medical clearance from NASCAR to resume racing, beginning Saturday night in the Sprint All-Star race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. He addressed the media via a teleconference Tuesday afternoon to discuss his recovery.
“Today is an exciting day,” he began,”one that not a lot of folks would have thought possible that night in February down in the hospital in Daytona. Thanks to the good Lord, a tremendous medical team both in Daytona and of course Dr. Anderson here in Charlotte, the incredible support of my wife Samantha, my family and friends, everyone in the NASCAR community, and the many fans.
“I’m happy to say I plan to be back in the No. 18 M&M Toyota Camry for the Sprint All-Star Race this weekend. I want to thank everybody for their patience. It’s not an easy process and not a process that always has a clear-cut path either.”
Busch’s preparations for getting back behind the wheel of his No. 18 Toyota included testing in his late model cars.
“I was cleared to get out of the boot a couple weeks ago and was cleared to test my late model,” he said. “That test went really well. I was able to come back again and test again last week at Hickory. My medical team was there with me and then declared I was cleared to get back in the car again for the All-Star Race in the Sprint Cup Series.”
Busch commented on the advantages of choosing a shorter, non-points races, such as the All-Star race, for his return. This event will undoubtedly serve as a barometer to gauge his overall level of fitness and pinpoint any areas of concern.
“I think it’s a great race to come back to,” Busch said. “For one it’s shorter. It’s a non-points event. There’s mandatory cautions after every 25 laps and whatnot, so it gives you an opportunity to take a breather, take a rest, whatever it may be. That will allow me to make adjustments to myself as well as being behind the wheel of the 2015 Camry for the first time because I haven’t had an opportunity to race at all in this aero package and whatnot.”
Although Busch plans to participate in all on-track activity, Erik Jones will be standing by if needed. Busch and wife, Samantha, are expecting a child and with the due date of May 22 fast approaching, Busch wants to be prepared for any surprises, particularly the non-racing variety.
“We couldn’t be more excited as we get closer and the anticipation rises here he said. “We’re going hour by hour right now. It could be any hour that he decides he wants to be here.”
When asked what he had missed most, Busch was quick to answer, “I think the biggest thing I missed is being able to hold up trophies, being in Victory Lane. That’s probably the biggest thing.” He went on to say that he has also “really missed my team, just the guys there, being able to be with them each and every weekend; of course, spending the weekend in the motorhome, being there with Samantha and everything else.”
One of the biggest questions surrounding Busch’s return is his eligibility for the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship.
“I know there’s been some good dialogue on the subject,” Busch noted, “but I’m not aware that there’s been a decision made at this point. As I mentioned last month, I’d love to race for a win and a spot in the Chase. I think the top 30 rule makes a lot of sense.
But for me, in my mind,” he continued, “it was intended for someone in my situation that has a car, sponsor and team that was set to run the entire year for a championship. I think it was set up to keep guys from being able to grab a win at a road course or restrictor plate track or something like that. We’ll see what happens. That’s in their hands. We’ll see what the decision is.”
NASCAR would have to grant a waiver to disallow the rule that a driver must attempt to qualify for all 26 regular season races to qualify for a Chase berth. That would overcome the first obstacle in Busch’s attempt to make the Chase. A win guarantees a spot in the Chase if that driver is ranked among the top 30 in the points standings; a daunting but not impossible task for Busch. NASCAR has the power to issue a waiver for this requirement, as well.
At this point, NASCAR has not made any decisions regarding Busch’s status though NASCAR chairman Brian France has indicated that the sanctioning body would like to “accommodate” him.
*Update May 13: On Wednesday NASCAR granted Busch a waiver from the requirement that a driver must start in every regular season race to be eligible for the Chase for the Sprint Cup. However, he still must be ranked in the top 30 in the Sprint Cup standings to remain eligible.
— Kyle Busch (@KyleBusch) May 12, 2015