CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Kyle Busch said he is still working through his NASCAR XFINITY Series schedule for 2016, but he knows restrictor-plate tracks are off the table.
Busch, the defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion, is the XFINITY Series win leader with 76 career victories. He also has 44 wins in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
But in 2015, Busch suffered a broken right leg and shattered left foot in the season-opening XFINITY Series race at Daytona International Speedway. The injuries kept him sidelined for months, and forced him to miss the first 11 races of the Sprint Cup Series season.
Tuesday, on the opening day of the Charlotte Motor Speedway Media Tour, Busch said he hopes to run between “15 to 18 races” in the XFINITY Series.
“No restrictor-plate races, I’m out of that stuff,” he said. “No more plate races because my wife won’t let me. And (team owner) Joe (Gibbs).
“Joe and Samantha have made that decision. I was thinking about it but they were like ‘no.’ “
Daytona and Talladega Superspeedway are the only two tracks on the NASCAR schedule where teams compete with restrictor plates, devices that limit the airflow into an engine and curb horsepower.
Although he missed a large portion of the season, Busch, 30, won five Sprint Cup races en route to the 2015 title. He also won six times in the XFINITY Series and twice in the Truck Series.
He competes for JGR in Sprint Cup and the XFINITY Series, but operates as an owner/driver in the Truck Series, where his Kyle Busch Motorsports organization won the ’15 title with driver Erik Jones.
The restrictor-plate decision was made “when I hit the wall at 90 g’s,” he said.
“That was sort of an (indication) that ‘all right, we don’t need to be doing this anymore,'” Busch said. “That was more of a Joe and Samantha request rather than something for me. I’ll race anything; I don’t care. But we’re not … invincible of course, things do happen. That was just a part of the plan.
“They are probably the scariest, most dangerous races that we have on the calendar. There still could be some crazy things that happen at other race tracks but it’s more in the drivers’ hands. …
“We were in the hospital and Samantha was like ‘you’re not doing these restrictor plate races anymore.’ Then she had a conversation with Joe.”
Busch underwent surgery last month to remove the metal rod and screws in his right leg as well as two plates in his left foot. He should require no further surgeries related to those injuries he said, noting that “everything went as expected.
“I feel like I’m probably about 85, maybe even better than 85 percent right now so I’m pretty close,” he said. “I definitely feel like a few more therapy sessions that I have lined up before getting to Daytona, I’m going to be fine. I feel like I’ll actually be 100 percent by Daytona.
“There’s still some swelling and some inflammation in there right now and scar tissue stuff that we’ve got to break down. As soon as we do that, that’s sort of when I feel like you’re 100 percent. But I’ve got full range of motion out of everything right now, full weight bearing and everything. About the only thing I’m not quite doing yet is going for a run.”
The NASCAR season officially gets underway next month at Daytona International Speedway with season-opening events in the Sprint Cup, XFINITY and Camping World Truck Series.