NASCAR CEO says he'd like to make room for Busch in Chase
RALPH D. RUSSO
Apr. 24, 2015
NEW YORK (AP) — NASCAR chairman Brian France isn't sure if Kyle Busch will be granted a waiver to be part of the championship chase when he returns from injury, but said Thursday the sanctioning body would like to "accommodate" him.
Busch broke his right leg and left foot in a crash into a concrete wall in the Xfinity Series race at Daytona International Speedway the day before the season-opening Daytona 500.
He'll miss his ninth race this weekend at Richmond International Raceway, but has indicated he'll return to racing this season. The only way he'd be eligible to make the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship is if NASCAR grants him a waiver, and he wins a race that would qualify him for the 16-driver field. He'd also have to be inside the top 30 in points.
Those are the rules under a Chase system France altered last year. It gives him more flexibility to grant exemptions to drivers who miss races.
"Depends on when he comes back of course, but it'll be more likely than not that we're going to try to figure out how to accommodate him, which is the beauty of our playoff system," France said Thursday during a meeting of The Associated Press Sports Editors at the NASCAR offices in Manhattan.
"What happened to him was on us," he said. "We'll balance a lot of things at that point when we have to make a decision, but we're inclined to want to figure that out for sure."
Busch was injured when he hit a wall that lacked an energy absorbing SAFER barrier. Since his Feb. 21 accident, NASCAR has worked with every race track to re-examine the safety measures in place.
So far, nearly every track inspected has added tire packs to protect concrete walls and vowed to add additional SAFER barriers by next year.
"I met personally with the track ownership groups and they satisfied me completely that they were going to spend millions and millions of dollars right now, not down the road, to get it right," France said. "If that doesn't play out the way they have talked about and assured me, then we'll deal with it.
"You can't run around and say that safety is your No. 1 priority and get that stuff wrong."
AP Auto Racing Writer Jenna Fryer contributed to this report.