Photo: Stephen A. Arce/ASP, Inc.

Kurt Busch Announces Retirement from Full-Time Cup Competition

By David Morgan, Associate Editor

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – After 23 years of being a NASCAR Cup Series competitor, Kurt Busch is officially hanging up the helmet from full-time racing at NASCAR’s highest level.

Since his July 2022 crash at Pocono that has left him sidelined with concussion-like symptoms, Busch has been working toward a full recovery from his injury, but the tough path back has led to Saturday’s emotional announcement that he would be stepping away.

“Racing at NASCAR’s highest level requires every last bit of focus, heart, stamina, and determination. And I know right now I can’t give what is required to compete at that level week in and week out. So, I’m officially announcing my retirement from NASCAR Cup Series competition,” Busch said as he read a prepared statement.

“Over the last several months being out of the car, I’ve appreciated the opportunity to remain actively involved with 23XI [Racing], Monster Energy and the Toyota Racing family. And want to do all I can to continue making this race team one of the best in motorsports. I guess it’s fitting that at age 45, my 23 years as a full-time driver in NASCAR would culminate in working with 23XI to impart the knowledge I have for our drivers and our team.

“As I transition out of the driver’s seat, I can’t help but feel incredibly blessed to have spent the amount of time I did as a driver in NASCAR. And I could never have imagined it growing up as a blue-collar kid from Las Vegas. So many people have been part of my journey.

“I want to thank the fans, my family, friends, sponsors and team members, thanks to everyone who has taught me the different things around the motorsports world and also for those who have had to put up with me. And then I wanna just thank again everyone that continues to push me to strive for success in this sport. It’s time for a new journey and I’m excited to get it started.”

Busch ends his Cup career with a resume that includes the 2004 Cup Series championship, as well as 34 wins and 28 poles. Among those victories are triumphs in the 2017 Daytona 500, the 2010 Coca-Cola 600 and All-Star Race, and the Bristol Night Race on two separate occasions in 2003 and 2018.

He was also named to NASCAR’s 75 Greatest Drivers list as a part of the 75th anniversary of the Cup Series this season.

While his career was a bit of a rollercoaster ride at times, driving for seven different teams along the way, Busch walks away with the respect of his fellow drivers and others in the garage as evidenced by the party of well-wishers that was present at Saturday’s announcement.

Following his remarks, Busch was greeted by officials from NASCAR, former and current sponsors, manufacturer representatives, car owners he has driven for, as well as many reps from 23XI Racing, where he has served as a driver consultant since his crash.

His younger brother Kyle was also in attendance, with the two brothers exchanging a hug and some brotherly ribbing afterwards.

So, what’s next for Busch? He explained that he still needs to get clearance from his doctors to climb behind the wheel again, but is enjoying his mentorship role with 23XI in the meantime.

“It’s difficult to know which avenues will lead to what here in the short-term future,” Busch said. “Still wanting to get doctor approval and to get cleared. That’s the first step. That’s what I need to do personally. Then we will have opportunities to talk to different motorsport teams, different sponsors, and doing other races…

“The most joy that I’ve found is that everything has slowed down for me to help analyze the data, to give advice to Bubba [Wallace] and to give advice to Tyler [Reddick], the engineering staff, the team members at 23XI. It’s really neat having all of this current knowledge and having the opportunity to be able to digest it and, and to give back to this team. So that’s the short-term goal.”

No doubt that Busch would love to put the helmet back on at some point down the line should his recovery allow him to, but for now, he’s certainly having fun in this current position in his life with 23XI.

“As long as they’ll allow me,” Busch said of the length of his tenure with the team. “I made up my official title this year. It was called C F D — it’s coefficient of drag, really that’s what C F D stands for. But I re-nicknamed it Captain of the Fun Department. So, that’s been a good role.

“And then as of late though, I’m revised it. I wanna become slightly more professional within the group. So I’ve named myself C V O — Chief Vision Officer. Whatever it means is whatever it means. But I enjoy working with all the departments and being that extra set of eyes and helping our team advance so that we can win more races, be more competitive, and have shots at winning championships because that’s the person who I am and I want to give back to our team.”

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David Morgan is the Associate Editor for Motorsports Tribune. A 2008 graduate from the University of Mississippi, David has followed NASCAR since the early 90’s and became hooked at an early age after attending his first race at Talladega Superspeedway in 1993. He has traveled across the country since 2012 to cover some of the most prestigious events both IndyCar and NASCAR have to offer, with an aim to only expand on that in the near future.