Coach Gibbs talks about Kyle Busch injury

Joe Gibbs

JOE GIBBS, team owner, Joe Gibbs Racing
Opening Statement:

"First of all, I want to say that what really impresses you at a time like this is the NASCAR family. Last night – our drivers are intense competition and all the race teams are intense in competition. Something like this happens, it was just an outpouring of spirit, prayers – we had drivers coming by last night while we were at the hospital. We had NASCAR officials and everybody coming by and certainly I think that's one of the most impressive things about our sport and the way we adjust to things and the way we rally behind people particularly when we have a situation like we had last night with Kyle (Busch). I'd like to address a couple of things with him – I talked to him before surgery and then we waited until after surgery.

"Kyle, to be quite truthful, was kind of light-hearted and joking around with me and talking about wanting to get back in the car right away before surgery. Afterwards the doctors came in and Sam (Busch, wife) stayed there with Kyle last night and for us, we waited to get a report from the doctor. He said everything went very well. The major portion of what they did yesterday was his lower right leg where the injury was – they took care of that. They're going to wait on his foot – his left foot – and it remains to be seen there what the situation is, but that will probably be taken care of. They said there's not a rush on that and we'll probably be dealing with that in Charlotte with Dr. Anderson. I felt like considering everything that happened last night, I felt like everybody banded together. Certainly, we appreciate all the prayers and I would like to say this, we've been in racing for all the Gibbs family – J.D. (team president) and Coy and everybody — we've been in racing 24 years and up until this point we've had one driver miss four weeks. I think that says a lot about the safety of the sport and I think yesterday in that wreck, the great thing was that Kyle had nothing from the knees up. Everything was fine and I think NASCAR does a great job of adjusting to things like this and making decisions. I think this will be the same in this case. I know the race track had a press conference yesterday and made some statements about that and I think this is probably one that again will make some good decisions again based on that.

"NASCAR certainly knows that the most important asset that we have is our drivers and I really applaud the fact that we have had some of the wrecks and everything that we have in sport and yet the safety factor has really been outstanding with some of the improvements that have been made. This will be a learning experience for everybody and I'm sure that the tracks will be a part of that and will probably reach the point with everything to do with the walls and everything — we'll probably have those protected. I know there's been some decisions made today on that too. I appreciate all that and the way NASCAR handles anything like this. They took our helmet last night, they took the HANS device and they take all those things when we have a wreck like this and do an in-depth study of it. We appreciate that."

Have you thought about drivers past this race and how long will Kyle Busch be out of the car?

"We haven't put thought into other than just today. We were thrilled to get Matt (Crafton) – I should have brought the fact that Matt has driven some of Kyle's stuff. He's a veteran guy and we felt like it was the perfect fit. We sent him over to the race shop last night. He met our person in charge of seats and they sat in all of our cars and he's real comfortable with Kyle's seat. We brought him down last night and he climbed into the car today and he told me, 'everything's perfect.' I appreciate Matt. As far as time or length, I don't have a good understanding of that with the doctors and everything — I think we're just going to pray for him to bounce back. I can tell you this, Kyle's already telling Sam, he said, 'Hey, I just want to get back to racing.' He has a great spirit about things like that."

Have you determined how many races Kyle could miss and still be eligible for the Chase?

"I really hadn't got into that other than I had a brief conversation last night about it and I'm not even sure that I'm clarified on all the rules and what would take place. I think our focus, we had so much going on last night, it was just to get everything arranged as best we could for today. I'm sure there will be some conversations on that going forward."

Does this incident give you any pause to Kyle racing in the Xfinity or Camping World Truck Series races?

"I think what happens on that, I've dealt with it for different driver and everything. If you take Kyle's situation, let's think about it for a minute, he has his own race team – trucks – loves that, wants to race it, it's a big part of him and Sam and his future so you kind of think about that and you know he's going to be racing some trucks. This year he cut down his schedule quite a bit there. Obviously, I think in Kyle's life, he has Sam and he has racing – he loves it. As a matter of fact, at one point there in his career, we did cut back quite a bit and it was one of the tougher years he had and he comes back to you. I think those conversations are obviously ones that you have, but I felt like in his case he just loves it so much and felt like it was something that really makes his happy, keeps him excited about life and you always wrestle with that. I think that's a little bit of my feelings about our past history with him. Racing is his life and like I said, other than Sam, that's what he wants to do."

Did you communicate the situation to Mars and have you spoken with NASCAR about SAFER barriers at other tracks?

"The thing about that, Mars has been in the sport for 27 years – have a great relationship, they're awesome, everybody, when I talked to everybody that was here – all on board and everybody was there last night. We had Mars people at the hospital and it is a close-knit family and they certainly are a big part of our family and they've been a big part of NASCAR's family. I don't deal with the tracks or anything like that so I haven't had any discussions along those lines. We leave that up to NASCAR."

Will Kyle need additional surgeries and when will he go back to Charlotte?

"As far as medically, I'm obviously not the medical person, but according to the doctor last night, the lower part of his leg is all taken care of and I think we'll have Dr. Anderson and that group look at the foot because they didn't feel that was something that would be dealt with right now. The main emphasis was on his leg. As far as going back to Charlotte, we're on standby with the plane. Whenever he feels that he can travel, we'll get him back to Charlotte."

Will the team owners demand SAFER barriers at all tracks on all walls moving forward?

"I think for me, just kind of the way I stated that we all work together. I think NASCAR does a great job of evaluating things. I think the safety of our cars is evident when you race cars. I think they do a great job with that. The comments I made are pretty much what I think and I think this is obviously – NASCAR realizes our most important thing that we deal with is our drivers. It's a safety issue and I think we've made great progress in the past. To have that kind of wreck yesterday and have him from the knees up be in great shape, I felt great about that. I think we all have concerns of any kind of injury to our drivers."

When will you know how long Kyle could be out of the car?

"I think what will happen there is the doctors, after they have a chance to look at his foot and everything and we get it all squared away, I think they will give us a good opinion. Dr. Anderson deals with, whether it's football or racing or anything so I think he will give us a good opinion of that. As far as sponsor goes, we had conversations all last night. Our Mars representatives were there at the hospital waiting all the way to the bitter end there listening to the doctor and everything. We're just going to make the best decision we can. We felt like today was perfect – you say perfect, but considering the situation we're in, to be able to get Matt (Crafton) down here last night was a big deal for us and to have him in the car – he and Kyle get along great and Kyle was saying to get him in here. Today has been our whole focus so we'll talk more about how long he's going to be out and try to get an evaluation of that and then starting tomorrow we'll talk about what's our best decision for everybody on going forward. I know our emphasis is getting him back as quick as we can. I know that's what Kyle will be wanting to do and we'll have everybody working with him and for him in rehab and everything else to get him back as quick as we can in the car."

What is the personal side of this with your close relationship to Kyle?

"I think what happens when you get in a relationship over a period time, which we've been with our drivers and you develop a close relationship with him and Sam and there is a personally side of that. My whole life has been involved in sports. People ask me about me about my children playing sports and I always said that, 'That's part of life for a lot of people,' and if they weren't playing sports in high school they would probably be riding around in cars and that's not safe either. So I think – you know, you look at that from a personal standpoint to just really care for Kyle, his whole family, mother and dad and so I think you are a lot like family. I look at it that way. I told him last night to be truthful – I told him before surgery that, 'Hey, I love you.' And that's the way we feel about it."

How does Kyle's injury compare to others you've seen in football and racing?
"I think any injury, particularly one that would affect your life and take you away from what you love to do for a period of time – I know we're going to just do everything we can to get Kyle back. And as far as the future, we're probably start thinking about that tomorrow, get a better evaluation from the doctors and what they think on time and then we'll be talking about what we can do there going forward, which will be best everyone concerned."

Closing Statement:

"Thank you all and appreciate all the prayers – the prayer and all of you. We care so much for our people and our family and the people you're so close to. I think in sports you go through so many things that are the highs and the lows and certainly right now this is a low. We appreciate everyone's prayers and going forward for the family and thank you for the way you guys always rally and you're a big part of our sport – thank you."

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