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“Race For The Championship” star Kurt Busch and his team announced Thursday that they are withdrawing their request for a medical waiver that would maintain the driver's eligibility for the NASCAR Cup playoffs. As a result, Busch will miss the start of the NASCAR Playoffs for the 2022 season.
The news is not altogether surprising given that Busch has missed the last five races of the season while recovering from concussion-like symptoms he developed following a qualifying crash on July 23 at Pocono Raceway. Since then, he, his team at 23XI Racing, and NASCAR have been focused on ensuring his long-term health rather than his short-term eligibility for the season.
“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 a statement (via NASCAR.com). “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.”
Despite missing five races, Busch was still eligible for the playoffs thanks to a win earlier this year at Kansas Speedway. Per NASCAR’s rules, a driver who wins any Cup Series race automatically earns a spot in the 16-driver postseason field, provided they finish the 26-race regular season in the top 30 in points and have attempted to start every race. Busch’s medical waiver would have taken care of that, but it seems he doesn’t feel it’s worth it to fight for the ability to race if he’s not at 100 percent physically.
“Kurt Busch has managed this difficult situation like the champion that he is,” a statement from NASCAR reads. “Working closely with his doctors, every decision made has been in the best interest of his health, his competitors and the sport. Kurt has NASCAR’s full support as he continues to heal, and we look forward to seeing him return to the race car.”
According to NBC Sports, Martin Truex Jr. now holds the final provisional playoff spot going into Saturday’s race at Daytona International Speedway since Busch will not be racing. So far Truex and Ryan Blaney are the only drivers to make the playoffs without earning a victory in the 2022 season.
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