Joe Gibbs Racing has not put a timetable on the return of driver Kyle Busch, who suffered a compound fracture of his lower right leg and a broken left foot in a crash Saturday at Daytona International Speedway.
Busch is already lobbying to come back as soon as possible, team owner Joe Gibbs said, but the number of months he misses will be determined after he returns to Charlotte, North Carolina, and visits OrthoCarolina Dr. Robert Anderson, who performed surgery on Busch’s left foot in the offseason and serves as the team doctor for the Carolina Panthers.
Gibbs said Busch, who had surgery on his leg Saturday night, will return to North Carolina as soon as he feels well enough to fly home.
“Today has been our whole focus, so we’ll talk more about how long he’s going to be out and try to get an evaluation of that, and then starting tomorrow we’ll talk about what’s our best decision for everybody on going forward,” Gibbs said Sunday before the Daytona 500. “I know our emphasis is getting him back as quick as we can.
“I know that’s what Kyle will be wanting to do, and we’ll have everybody working with him and for him in rehab and everything else to get him back as quick as we can in the car.”
Replacing Busch for the Daytona 500 is Matt Crafton, who has won back-to-back Camping World Truck Series titles but has never competed in a Cup race. Crafton attempted to qualify at Indianapolis for RAB Racing but failed to make the field.
While NASCAR typically would not allow a rookie to start a car qualified by someone else, the 38-year-old Crafton is in his 15th year racing trucks. He also has driven cars for JGR and Richard Childress Racing in substitute roles during practice and qualifying in recent years.
Driving for Toyota-supported ThorSport Racing in the trucks, Crafton and Busch have a strong relationship. Whether that will put Crafton in the car beyond Daytona remains to be seen, with both Gibbs and Crafton saying Sunday that they have not talked much about next week’s race at Atlanta and beyond. JGR has a development driver, Erik Jones, who is running a handful of Xfinity Series races for the team in addition to a full truck schedule for Kyle Busch Motorsports.
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