Freddie Kraft Deconstructs Kurt Busch’s Ethically Right Decision Which Could Potentially Backfire on Toyota

Published 08/30/2022, 12:45 PM EDT
DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA – FEBRUARY 16: Kurt Busch, driver of the #45 Monster Energy Toyota, speaks to the media during the NASCAR Cup Series 64th Annual Daytona 500 Media Day at Daytona International Speedway on February 16, 2022 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)

Kurt Busch’s team 23XI Racing had earlier decided to revoke his playoff waiver, as Kurt’s health was still in question. Now, 23 XI spotter for Bubba Wallace Freddie Kraft deconstructs the ethical but uncompetitive decision Kurt Busch made that could backfire on Toyota.

Kraft stated, “On the side of ethics Kurt Busch did the right thing. On the side of competition probably not.”


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“You know this was the worst-case scenario for them, Kurt bailed out, we had a new winner and you handed Ryan Blaney a playoff spot essentially.

“That’s a guy that was, look at him, he was second in points, I think he finished second, I’m assuming he might have been third.”

He added, “Now the rest of the Toyota’s have to compete against for the championship. If he didn’t do that, you had Austin Dillon in the playoffs and Kurt taking up a spot and that’s one less really good car that they have to compete with in the championship but, I think they did the right thing.”

Kraft concluded by stating, “I personally probably would’ve done it the other way and seen and I don’t know, you don’t know, what happened behind the scenes, NASCAR kind of told them, ‘hey listen you know, you need to make this decision by here, what not.’

“But I think it was a mistake on their part because now you have added up a really good car in the playoffs.”

How did Kurt Busch receive his injury?

Back during the qualifying session at Pocono, Kurt Busch’s car slammed against the outside wall hard. Even though initially he walked out seemingly unscathed, Busch soon announced that he was facing concussion-like symptoms.

His symptoms were similar to that of Dale Earnhardt Jr back when he had to sit out half a season.

Feb 16, 2022; Daytona, FL, USA; NASCAR Cup Series driver Kurt Busch (45) during qualifying for the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports

While entering turn 3 at Pocono, Busch’s rear end gave up and slid along the banking to slam hard against the outside wall. After the incident, the medical staff did not clear him to race ahead, citing a risk of injuries aggravating.

Since then, questions were raised if the 23XI driver would be able to race for the playoffs.

The answer to that came right around the time of the race at Watkins Glen, where it was clear that Busch would be pulling his waiver out due to his injuries and will not participate in the playoffs, prioritizing his health above the competition at hand.

Busch stated that he respected the sport and the other competitors, hence he decided not to block a spot in the playoffs while having the knowledge that with his current stature, he would not be able to partake in racing.


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His team’s co-owner, Denny Hamlin, stated that it was not the team’s decision to pull out of the playoffs, rather it was Kurt himself who chose to go ahead with the decision.

Hamlin concluded by stating that “his future will always be his decision.”


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Moreover, now that the regular season has come to an end, the additional playoff spot that opened because of Kurt Busch withdrawing his waiver was taken by Ryan Blaney after the chaotic race at Daytona last week.

Meanwhile, the already open playoff spot was taken by race winner Austin Dillon of Richard Childress Racing.



Srijan Mandal

768 articles

Srijan Mandal is a NASCAR author at EssentiallySports. He is currently pursuing his Master’s in Journalism and has been writing for his own blog as well, covering NASCAR, F1, F2, W Series, MotoGP, DTM, IndyCar, WRC, and WEC. Following motorsports for more than a decade, he has become a devout supporter of McLaren Racing, Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Bubba Wallace, Sir Lewis Hamilton, and Ayrton Senna.

Edited By: Ranvijay Singh