Kyle Busch is rushing his return to the #18 Joe Gibbs Toyota. Maybe that’s a strong opinion since the accident didn’t happen to me, but actually his injuries are very close to those I sustained in 1998.
Mine wasn’t quite as glamorous as a racing accident, but just as traumatic. Being hit by a car and thrown 50 feet didn’t do my bones any favors. Busch suffered a compound break of his right leg and a fracture of his left foot in in a wreck in the closing laps of the Xfinity Series race at Daytona International Speedway.
Mine was a broken left leg, slight fracture of the right forearm and a very rare type of broken ankle. I know exactly what Kyle Busch has gone through. It took two years before I could walk without a cane.
Busch is beyond the shadow of a doubt one of the very best drivers in modern Sprint Cup. No one can deny that. But is he the smartest? One good hit in any of these next few races could undo all of the healing his bones have gone through.
Rushing back into one of these cars at an ultra competitive event such as the Sprint All-Star is courting disaster.
Busch is still young, JGR is not going to toss him aside for Erik Jones, talented though he may be. Jones is a super future talent, but Busch is a proven entity that should be secure enough in his abilities to not jeopardize his future.
It’s obvious to anyone who has some knowledge of these types of injuries that it’s a hard climb back to the front of a Cup race. Just ask Tony Stewart who hasn’t performed the way we’re all used to seeing. Is it trepidation on Stewart’s part or is it just a new type of car? My bet is that he has to overcome what all drivers do when they have catastrophic injuries.
Just ask Niki Lauda after his horrific crash at the Nurburgring in 1976. Lauda suffered extensive scarring from the burns to his head, losing most of his right ear as well as the hair on the right side of his head, his eyebrows and his eyelids. He chose to limit reconstructive surgery to replacing the eyelids and getting them to work properly.
Lauda returned 6 weeks later only to find he was terrified. He discovered that even though he couldn’t remember all that happened to him in the crash, he couldn’t navigate certain corners at full throttle, his mind wouldn’t allow it. He finally was able to mentally overcome it, but not without great difficulty.
I would have to say, from experience, that Busch, Stewart and Lauda both suffer what we now call PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). Yes it applies to racing drivers, not just victims of horrible crimes or returning military personnel. It affects racing drivers who have had a catastrophic accident.
Racing drivers are a unique breed of cat. The first thing you want to do is get back in the car right away, get back on the horse, but it’s often rushed and can be a life-altering mistake.
Busch would lose nothing by more slowly working himself back into top shape. He’s that good.
I can attest that there is nothing more ever-present, more throbbing and more painful than broken bones, especially legs and feet. That pain isn’t gone for Busch. How much will it distract him in a full-blown Cup Car? Only he knows.
He should wait at least a few more races before climbing back into the number 18.