23XI Racing’s Kurt Busch will miss his third consecutive Cup Series race as he continues to focus on recovering from concussion-like symptoms suffered in a crash during qualifying at Pocono Raceway. Ty Gibbs will replace him in the #45 Toyota Camry while Kevin Harvick breaks their tie on a historic roster.
Busch and Harvick enter the race weekend tied for 11th on the all-time starting list. They have each competed in 776 Cup Series races, eight less than Michael Waltrip. Harvick will make his 777th start at Michigan International Speedway on Aug. 7, bringing him one step closer to Waltrip’s mark.
Busch actually started the season with two more career starts than his fellow champion. He entered the season with 756 while Harvick had 754. The Stewart-Haas Racing driver moved into a tie with Busch after races at Pocono Raceway and Indianapolis Motor Speedway. From now on, he will take sole possession of 11th place in the standings.
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Some things remain more important to Busch
Having more career starts provides unique bragging rights, but this stat is ultimately less important. What really matters is that Busch takes the time to focus on his health and getting back to his full strength instead of trying to rush.
Busch has recently started showing his recovery. He explained in a video that his vision and hearing are still not 100% and that his doctors wanted him to go to a noisy place that does not require physical activity. His solution was to attend a Charlotte FC game.
Busch also spent time at the Toyota Performance Center. The manufacturer has built a massive facility with the best equipment to help drivers train for their time behind the wheel. They build their bodies while working on reflexes and hand-eye coordination.
The two pilots should pass Waltrip in 2022
While Busch remains inactive for another week, he should be able to return in the coming weeks. He will chase a spot in Championship Four as he and Harvick inch closer to a major achievement.
Both drivers are expected to finish the season within reach of 800 starts. Harvick will be at 790 starts by the end of the season while Busch’s number will depend on when he returns to the #45 Toyota Camry TRD. If he is back in time for the Aug. 14 trip to Richmond Raceway, he will finish the season with 789 starts.
Busch and Harvick are expected to pass Waltrip before the end of the season, which will put them on the pace to join an elite group. There are only nine drivers who have made 800 Cup Series starts. Jeff Gordon is ninth with 805 while 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 career Cup Series starts.
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