24 February 2015
NASCAR: David Ragan to stand in for Kyle Busch
David Ragan will take over the #18 Joe Gibbs Racing car for the foreseeable future while regular driver Kyle Busch recovers from injury.
Joe Gibbs Racing announced on Tuesday that it had come to an arrangement with Front Row Motorsports to put David Ragan into the JGR #18 Sprint Cup car in place of Kyle Busch, who is recovering from a broken leg sustained during a support race at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday.
Busch suffered a compound fracture of the right leg and a mid-foot fracture to his left foot after a heavy impact with a concrete inner wall at the 2.5-mile tri-oval superspeedway.
Busch was released from Halifax Health Medical Center in Daytona Beach on Tuesday morning and transferred to a hospital near his home in Charlotte, North Carolina for further treatment. It's not yet known what the prognosis and timeline for his recovery is.
"We appreciate all the support we have received from the NASCAR community including our fans and we look forward to getting Kyle back in the car as soon as possible," said Joe Gibbs, the owner of Joe Gibbs Racing
In the meantime, 29-year-old Georgian native David Ragan will take over at the wheel of the #18 car for the foreseeable future, starting with immediate effect at this weekend's second round of the Sprint Cup Series championship at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Ragan has run eight full seasons in Cup competition with 291 career starts and two career wins, including most recently at Talladega Superspeedway in May 2013.
"We appreciate being able to work with Front Row Motorsports and [sponsor] CSX for David's availability,” said Gibbs. “We are fortunate to be able to have someone of David's calibre behind the wheel while Kyle recovers."
Front Row Motorsports have yet to announce who will take over Ragan's position in the #34 Cup car in the meantime.
In addition, JGR also announced that Erik Jones will take over Busch's driving duties in the #54 car in the Xfinity Series for the next race at Atlanta. It was during the opening Xfinity (previously Nationwide) race of the season at Daytona that Busch crashed and sustained his injuries, ironically in an incident sparked by Jones himself spinning out late in the race.
Jones is currently a full-time regular in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series for Kyle Busch Motorsports. The 18-year-old from Michigan had been considered for the Cup role as well before the more experienced Ragan's services were secured by the team. While Jones is confirmed only for the next race - JGR said a further line-up for that car would be announced in due course - Joe Gibbs made it clear that the team had definite plans for the youngster moving forward.
"Erik is a big part of our future at JGR and we will be increasing his schedule in the Xfinity Series beginning this weekend in Atlanta and seeking the earliest opportunity to provide him Cup experience," said Gibbs.
Kyle Busch's injuries from last weekend's accident have sparked a number of safety reviews as venues hosting NASCAR events. Atlanta Motor Speedway's management announced on Tuesday that they would be following Daytona's lead in putting in more impact-absorbing SAFER barriers around the walls of their facility as soon as possible, and in the meantime will make interim temporary arrangements for this weekend's race.
"Following discussions yesterday between Atlanta Motor Speedway and NASCAR officials and a subsequent review of the existing SAFER barriers at the facility, AMS will add a number of additions to its existing barrier system," a statement from AMS said.
"The protective wall at the exit of pit road near turn 1 will be extended, and a tyre barrier will be added along the inside wall of turn 4 to offer supplementary safety protection. The installations will add a total of 130 linear feet of additional protective barrier prior to this weekend's NASCAR events.
"Further review regarding future installation of additional SAFER barriers at the facility will take place following Sunday's Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500," the statement added. "Atlanta Motor Speedway is dedicated to providing the safest possible facility for its fans and drivers."
Meanwhile over at Stewart-Haas Racing, the team has confirmed that Regan Smith will get a second outing in the #41 car. Smith took over the race seat last weekend at short notice for the Daytona 500 following Kurt Busch's indefinite suspension from all NASCAR activity over allegations of domestic abuse from Busch's former partner.
Smith is no stranger to Cup competition at Atlanta, and will be making his seventh series start at the venue in next Sunday's race. His most recent Sprint Cup start at the 1.54-mile oval was on September 2, 2012 when he finished 14th.
SHR is yet to make a long-term decision about the future of the #41 car in the Sprint Cup. An interim driver for following weekend's race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and subsequent races has not been determined.
Joe Gibbs Racing
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