CONCORD, N.C.— In his return to racing after a serious injury, Kyle Busch has a lot on his mind.
First of all, he has to acclimate to the feel of the 2015 rules package on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race car and he has to do it immediately.
Second, Busch has to figure out how to qualify for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, despite starting his season 11 races later than his rivals started theirs.
Third, the driver of the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota will do his best to steer clear of any on-track incidents that might jeopardize his recovery from a broken right leg and left foot suffered in a Feb. 21 XFINITY Series race at Daytona.
And fourth — and by no means least — Busch and wife Samantha are expecting their first child in a matter of days.
After leading Friday’s Sprint All-Star Race practice session at Charlotte Motor Speedway at 188.884 mph, an upbeat Busch fielded questions from reporters.
“It felt really good,” Busch said of his first laps in the No. 18 Toyota. “I was obviously optimistic about coming back and getting some laps in here at Charlotte Motor Speedway… I was excited to get back in and see my guys and just kind of get the taste of all of that again. Just trying to get a feel for the seat, the car and being back behind the wheel – it’s been a while.
“As far as I was concerned, it felt like everything went according to plan, and we had some decent speed in race trim. We made some adjustments to it for that qualifying run – that mock qualifying run that we made… Was able to put a fast time up to get top of the sheet, but not sure that everybody made that same effort. Was definitely excited to see that speed and hopefully we can see that again tomorrow night.”
Busch also hopes the couple’s child will cooperate and refrain from make an appearance until after the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race. On Friday morning, Busch shared a tender moment with his wife before heading for his race car.
“Every morning we always get up together,” Busch said. “We eat breakfast together and what not, so we just kind of shared a little bit of that during breakfast, but then when I left the house I told her to make sure she did everything the best she could to keep her legs crossed today and tomorrow. We need to keep baby Busch inside for at least 48 more hours.
“Besides that, it was a nice moment as I was getting ready to walk out to the garage – we hugged for a little while and she said that what we had was all over with having to go through all the trials and tribulations of figuring out how to stand up, how to walk and all that stuff.
“That’s all over and it seems as though we’re back to our normal schedule although sometimes it takes a little longer for me to get from point ‘A’ to point ‘B.’ Hopefully, (in) not too much longer, that will be right back to where it was, too.”
Reid Spencer – NASCAR Wire Service
Image: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images