23XI Racing’s Kurt Busch will miss his third straight Cup Series race as he remains focused on recovering from symptoms of a concussion he sustained in a crash during qualifying at Pocono Raceway. Ty Gibbs will replace him in the No. 45 Toyota Camry while Kevin Harvick breaks their connection on a historic list.
Busch and Harvick go into the race weekend in 11th place on the all-time start list. They have each qualified for 776 Cup Series races, eight fewer than Michael Waltrip. Harvick will make his 777th start at Michigan International Speedway on August 7th, moving one start closer to Waltrip’s mark.
Busch actually started the season with two more career starts than his fellow champion. He went into the season with 756 while Harvick had 754. The Stewart-Haas Racing driver came to a tie with Busch after races at Pocono Raceway and Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Now he alone will take 11th place in the ranking.
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More career starts offer some unique braggart rights, but that statistic ultimately matters less. What really matters is that Busch is taking time to focus on his health and getting back to full strength rather than trying to rush back.
Busch has recently started flaunting his recovery. He explained it in a video that his vision and hearing are still not 100% and that his doctors wanted him to go somewhere noisy that did not require physical activity. His solution was to attend a Charlotte FC game.
Busch has also spent time at the Toyota Performance Center. The manufacturer has built a massive facility stocked with the best equipment to help drivers train for their time behind the wheel. They build their body while working on reflexes and hand-eye coordination.
While Busch is out for another week, he should be able to return in the coming weeks. He will be aiming for a fourth championship spot as he and Harvick near great success.
The two riders should finish the season within 800 starts. Harvick will have 790 starts by the end of the season while Busch’s number will depend on when he returns to the No. 45 Toyota Camry TRD. If he is back in time for the August 14 trip to Richmond Raceway, he will finish the season with 789 starts.
Both Busch and Harvick should pass Waltrip before the end of the season, which will position them to join an elite group. There are only nine drivers who have started in the 800 Cup Series. Jeff Gordon is ninth with 805, Darrell Waltrip is eighth with 809.
The historical list includes Bill Elliott (828), Kyle Petty (829), Mark Martin (882), Dave Marcis (883), Terry Labonte (890), and Ricky Rudd (906). The king, Richard Petty, has the unbeatable mark of 1,184 starts in the career cup series.
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