LONG POND, Pa. (AP) — The teenage grandson of Hall of Fame football coach and NASCAR team owner Joe Gibbs is set to make his Cup Series debut Sunday at Pocono Raceway after Kurt Busch failed to was not allowed to race with a head injury.
Ty Gibbs got the call to replace Busch in the No. 45 Toyota for 23XI Racing and starts at the back of the pack a day after finishing second in NASCAR’s second-tier Xfinity Series race at Pocono.
Busch, 43, who has hinted next season will be his last drive in NASCAR, tweeted that he was suffering from ‘concussion-like symptoms’ from a blow he sustained during the qualifying session of Saturday. Busch was not cleared Sunday morning by NASCAR medical staff to compete.
“Tests indicate I am still recovering,” Busch wrote.
Busch has made 776 career Cup starts, is the 2004 series champion and in his first season driving for a team jointly owned by Michael Jordan and Denny Hamlin. It spun on Saturday and slammed into NASCAR’s safer protective barriers.
This opened the door for Gibbs to make his debut. Gibbs, third in the Xfinity Series points standings, said he had to pull over on the side of the freeway and collect his thoughts when he got the call on Saturday to replace Busch. Gibbs was already back in North Carolina and hopped on a racing simulator until 1 a.m. to prepare for his debut.
Gibbs has eight wins in 36 career Xfinity starts driving for a team owned by his grandfather.
“I’m very grateful to have walked into all of this,” he told his carrier. “I didn’t expect it at all. It means a lot. I’m going to be very disciplined in these situations.
Gibbs also thanked Jordan for the opportunity – “I’ve always looked up to him” – but hadn’t spoken to the owner of NASCAR’s most famous team.
Busch, in his second season at the wheel of 23XI Racing, continued to hint that he was close to retirement but said on Saturday “there is no real game plan yet” on when he could hang up the headset.
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