Daytona Beach, FL (SportsNetwork.com) - Kyle Busch will miss the Daytona 500 and more Sprint Cup Series races following that after he suffered multiple injuries during a multi-car accident in the closing laps of Saturday's 300- mile Xfinity Series event at Daytona International Speedway.
Busch, 29, sustained a compound fracture of his right lower leg and a mid-foot fracture of his left foot. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver underwent surgery on his right leg on Saturday night.
Officials from JGR said that Busch's injuries will sideline him for an undetermined period of time. The team also announced that Matt Crafton, the two-time defending Camping World Truck Series champion, will substitute for Busch in the No. 18 Toyota in Sunday's 57th running of the Daytona 500. An interim driver has not been determined for the following race on March 1 at Atlanta Motor Speedway or for any future events.
Busch was scheduled to start fourth in the Daytona 500. Crafton, making his first appearance in NASCAR's most prestigious race of the season, will have start from the rear of the field due to the driver change.
With eight laps remaining in the Xfinity season-opening race at Daytona, Busch was one of 11 drivers involved in the wreck that occurred on the frontstretch. He lost control and then veered off the track before he slid onto the infield grass and slammed head-on into the inside retaining wall. The wall where Busch hit does not have the SAFER (steel and foam energy reduction) barrier on it.
Erik Jones, who is Busch's JGR teammate in Xfinity, triggered the incident when he spun out and collected several cars running in a tight pack. It was the second time in the race a major crash happened on the frontstretch. An accident there on lap 93 involved 11 drivers as well.
Busch struggled to climb out of his heavily damaged No. 54 Toyota and then laid down on the grass near his car, as he appeared to be in excruciating pain.
Safety personnel placed Busch on a stretcher and stabilized his right leg. He was immediately transported by ambulance to nearby Halifax Medical Center for further evaluation.
In the aftermath of Busch's accident, track workers at Daytona began installing tire packs along the wall where Busch made hard contact as well as other walls at this famed 2.5-mile superspeedway. The crash sparked criticism that the track does not have SAFER barriers on all of its walls.
Officials from Daytona International Speedway and NASCAR have vowed to immediately begin installing the barriers in all areas here.
"The Daytona International Speedway did not live up to its responsibility today," DIS track president Joie Chitwood III said during a press conference on Saturday night. "We should have had a SAFER barrier there today, and we did not. We're going to fix that. We're going to fix that right now.
"We've got the team out tonight. We're going to install tire packs along that 850-foot linear square feet of wall, so we're ready to go racing tomorrow. Following that, the Daytona International Speedway is going to install SAFER barrier on every inch at this property. This is not going to happen again. We're going to live up to our responsibility. We're going to fix this, and it starts right now."
NASCAR plans to have conversations with all of its sanctioned tracks in regards to SAFER barriers and other safety measures.
"What happened (to Busch) should not have happened," NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer Steve O'Donnell said. "I think we all know that racing is an inherently dangerous sport, but our priority is safety and we'll continue to put things in place that make this sport as safe as possible."
Busch's accident occurred just hours after his elder brother, Kurt, lost his initial appeal to be reinstated from an indefinite suspension. NASCAR suspended Kurt Busch on Friday after a Delaware family court ruled that he committed an act of domestic violence against his ex-girlfriend Patricia Driscoll.
Ryan Reed won the Xfinity race after he passed Brad Keselowski on the final lap and then held off his Roush Fenway Racing teammate, Chris Buescher, at the finish by just 0.089 seconds. It was the first victory for Reed in NASCAR's second-tier series.
Busch holds the record for most career victories in the series with 70. He also has 29 career wins in Sprint Cup and 42 in the Truck Series. He finished 10th in last year's championship Chase point standings.