NASCAR: Kurt Busch Announces He Is Stepping Away From Full-Time Cup Series Competition in 2023

by Nick Geddes
(Photo via Getty Images / Todd Warshaw / Contributor)

Kurt Busch announced Saturday that he is stepping down from full-time NASCAR Cup Series competition in 2023.

Busch, 44, made the announcement on Twitter — moments before speaking with the media at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Busch, 44, has been out of action since July after suffering a concussion during a qualifying session at Pocono Raceway. Busch is still recovering and said he is still not 100%.

“I know I’m not 100% in my ability to go out and race at the top level in the NASCAR Cup Series,” Busch said. “These are the best of the best drivers, and lately, I haven’t felt my best.”

Busch did not rule out running a few races — health permitting.

“If I’m cleared, maybe you’ll see me at a few select races,” Busch said.

Tyler Reddick, who currently drives the No. 8 car for Richard Childress Racing, will join 23XI Racing and replace Busch in the No. 45 car. Reddick was set to join the Toyota-based team in 2024, but will now make the move a year earlier than expected. Reddick is enjoying a career-year this season, having made the playoffs and winning three races.

“This is more of being unselfish and respecting what has to happen in this industry,” Busch said of allowing Reddick to step in early. “… I will get back to 100%, I promise.”

Kurt Busch Likely Headed to NASCAR Hall of Fame After Accomplished Career

For Busch, however, the announcement brings an end to a 22-season run in the Cup Series. Busch made his Cup Series debut in 2000 at age 21, making seven starts. He became full-time in 2001 after racing just one season in the Truck Series. It didn’t take long for Busch to make an impact, notching his first Cup Series win in the 2002 Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Two years later, Busch was the standard of the sport. Behind the wheel of the No. 97 Ford Taurus for Roush Fenway Racing, Busch was crowned 2004 Nextel Cup Series champion. Busch won three races that season — the first in which NASCAR conducted a postseason to determine a champion. He qualified for the playoffs this season after winning at Kansas Speedway in May, but withdrew his spot due to injury.

Among the 34 Cup Series races in which he won, Busch raced to victory lane in the 2017 Daytona 500. He scored 161 top fives and 339 top 10s in 776 starts. Busch is No. 12 on the all-time Cup Series starts list.

What’s Next?

The wait is on to see if Busch steps back in a race car again, but until then, Busch said that you could soon find him on a TV screen in a broadcast role. Busch said he will talk to Fox Sports this weekend about a potential opportunity.

NASCAR President Steve Phelps issued the following statement of Busch’s decision to step away from full-time competition.

“For more than two decades, we have been privileged to watch Kurt Busch compete,” Phelps said, via NBC Sports. “He has proven himself a champion on the racetrack, but perhaps just as importantly, he has grown to become a true ambassador for the sport. Kurt’s drive to improve the future of motorsports has set him apart.

“We are thrilled that he’ll remain in our sport as a leader and trusted resource. Kurt’s unparalleled passion for racing gives us hope that we will see him in a race car again.”