Kurt Busch, the 2004 NASCAR champion who withdrew from competition after suffering a serious concussion last year, announced his retirement on Saturday at Daytona International Speedway.
Busch, 45, refrained from crying as he announced his retirement from the Cup Series while seated on the same stage where he had previously celebrated one of his most memorable triumphs — the 2017 Daytona 500.
“My body is just having a battle with Father Time,” Busch said, adding he has dealt with arthritis and gout while trying to recover from a rear-impact collision he says rattled his brain.
“I’m very happy, complacent,” he said. “There’s nothing I look back on and regret about having this opportunity at the top level of NASCAR.”
Kyle, his younger brother, sat in the back of the press room throughout the announcement. Additionally present were numerous Toyota officials, 23IX Racing drivers Bubba Wallace and Tyler Reddick, and NASCAR executives Jim France, Ben Kennedy, Steve O’Donnell, and Mike Helton.
“It’s time for a new journey, and I’m excited to get started,” Busch said.
The Las Vegas native was involved in a qualifying crash at Pocono Raceway last summer that had a profoundly negative impact on his life. His Toyota’s front end crashed into a wall rearward with a G-force making safety concerns about the Next Gen vehicles arise.
In an effort to lessen the impacts of rear-impact incidents, which killed a lot of drivers in 2022, NASCAR spent a lot of the summer making changes to its car. Alex Bowman of Hendrick Motorsports missed five races due to a concussion, and numerous other drivers complained about the brutality of common collisions and questioned whether they had experienced head damage.
Busch stated at the announcement on Saturday that he is continuing to make small advances and plans to race again in the future, but he has no set comeback date.
“It’s not as bad as it was last summer and last fall,” he said.
In 776 starts during a 23-year period in the Cup Series, Busch won 34 races. He was hired as a consultant by Toyota and his former team, 23XI Racing. At the Daytona 500 last year, he offered advice to Travis Pastrana, and he has since embraced everyone in the garage in need of counsel.
“Racing at NASCAR’s highest level requires every bit of focus, heart, stamina and determination,” Busch said. “And I know right now I can’t give what’s required to compete at that level week in and week out.”