Photo courtesy of Sean Gardner | Getty Images
Due to lingering symptoms from his qualifying crash at Pocono Raceway last month, Kurt Busch will miss the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs. Ty Gibbs will continue to fill in for Busch in the No. 45 23XI Racing Toyota as the team can still compete for the Owners’ Championship.
This will be the first time Busch has missed the playoffs in its current format and the first time he’s missed a Cup Series postseason since 2012.
Busch initially earned a playoff spot after scoring a victory in May at Kansas Speedway, marking the ninth-consecutive season the 2004 Cup champion has won a race.
“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,” Kurt Busch said in a statement. “The decision was not an easy one but I know it is the right thing to do.”
With Busch’s playoff waiver being removed, two spots are now open for the 16-driver field for the Cup Series postseason.
Ryan Blaney remains 25 points ahead of Martin Truex Jr., but now the driver of the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota sits above the cutline and both will lock into the playoffs if either driver wins or if no one outside the playoff picture scores the victory Saturday night at Daytona International Speedway (7 p.m., NBC, Peacock, NBC Sports App).
Drivers who need to win to clinch a playoff spot include: Erik Jones, Chris Buescher, Aric Almirola, Justin Haley, Bubba Wallace, Austin Dillon, Michael McDowell, Ty Dillon, Todd Gilliland, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Cole Custer, Brad Keselowski and Harrison Burton.
“Kurt has elevated our entire organization this year,” said 23XI team president, Steve Lauletta in a statement. “Although Kurt will not be competing for a championship this season, he will continue to play a vital role in the organization as he works with our competition group to keep improving and strengthening the team.”