The NASCAR regular-season finale just got a bit more interesting.
23XI Racing has announced that Kurt Busch, still suffering from the effects of a concussion, will miss the start of the playoffs. Additionally, Busch has withdrawn his playoff waiver that he earned for winning at Kansas earlier this season.
The move means there are now two potential spots open for the playoffs in this weekend's regular-season finale at Daytona, rather than just one.
"I respect the sport of NASCAR, my fellow drivers and the fans too much to take up a playoff spot if I know I can’t compete for a championship," Busch said in a statement.
Ty Gibbs, Busch's replacement, offered up his own thoughts on Twitter:
Busch's decision gives new life to the playoff hopes of another former champion, Martin Truex Jr., who currently sits in 17th place in the playoff standings. Ryan Blaney, in 16th, is the only driver without a victory now above the playoff cut line. Blaney is 25 points ahead of Truex.
A driver from lower down in the standings would leapfrog both Blaney and Truex with a victory at Daytona. However, Busch's decision makes it certain that at least one driver without a victory this season will reach the playoffs in 2022.
Contact Jay Busbee at email@example.com or on Twitter at @jaybusbee.