By Crystal Clay and Adam Carabine
Saturday morning, an emotional Kurt Busch formally announced that he is stepping away from full-time racing in the NASCAR Cup Series at a press conference at his home track, Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
In a prepared statement Busch said, “As I continue to focus on my health and work towards being cleared, I will be stepping away from full-time NASCAR Cup Series competition in 2023. My long-term health is priority number one, and I don’t feel committing at this point to compete for a championship next year is in my best interest or the best interest of the team.”
The statement also announced that Tyler Reddick would take over driving his #45 full-time in 2023.
Kurt Busch posted the statement on Twitter.
In front of a near-capacity media center, Kurt Busch was visibly choked up while making his announcement.
However, in the question and answer session that followed, he retained an optimistic tone, interrupted with some laughter.
“For me, I will get back to 100%, I promise. I will keep pushing myself and my health to get back that priority first, and then we can decide about racing afterwards.”
The decision was mainly made by doctors not clearing him to race, but he also iterated that he felt it was the right thing to do for his team, 23XI Racing.
His contract was originally for two years, expected to expire at the end of 2023.
“I should be better by now, and I haven’t been cleared. This is more of being unselfish and respecting what has to happen in this industry, and that’s to know how to make a team move forward. I believe in 23XI, and everyone here.”
Team owner Denny Hamlin was also on hand to confirm that Ty Gibbs will continue to fill in for the remainder of 2022.
Hamlin also said that he has given Kurt Busch the green light to compete for 23XI Racing in the occasional race, once he has been cleared by doctors to return behind the wheel.
“I told Kurt, never feel like you owe the team anything, if anything, the team owes you. Any race he wants to participate in, I will certainly field a third car for him.”