LONG POND, Pa. — 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 was not cleared to race with a head injury.
Ty Gibbs got the call to replace Busch in the No. 45 Toyota for 23XI Racing and starts in the back of the field a day after he finished second in NASCAR’s second-tier Xfinity Series race at Pocono.
The 43-year-old Busch, who has hinted next season will be his last driving in NASCAR, tweeted he suffered from “concussion-like symptoms” from a hit suffered during Saturday’s qualifying session. Busch was not cleared on Sunday morning by NASCAR’s medical staff to compete.
“The tests indicate that 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 co-owned by Michael Jordan and Denny Hamlin. He spun on Saturday and slammed into NASCAR’s protective safer barriers.
That 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 highway and collect his thoughts when he got the call Saturday to replace Busch. Gibbs was already back in North Carolina and hopped on a racing simulator until 1 a.m. to get himself ready for his debut.
Gibbs has eight wins in 36 career Xfinity starts driving for a team owned by his grandfather.
“I’m very thankful just to come into this whole thing,” he said at his hauler. “I did not expect it at all. It means a lot. I’m going to very disciplined in these situations.”
Gibbs also thanked Jordan for the opportunity — “I always looked up to him” — but had not talked to NASCAR’s most famous team owner.
Busch, in his second season driving for 23XI Racing, continued to drop hints of late that he’s close to retirement but said Saturday “there’s no real game plan just yet” on when he might hang up the helmet.
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