Kyle Busch said there wasn’t much trial and error involved when figuring out he had broken a leg and a foot in his grisly crash at Daytona in February.
Here’s part of his lengthy explanation of what happened during the Xfinity race. Busch spoke to reporters for an hour on Wednesday, the first time he’s met with the media since the crash that’s forced him to miss all of the 2015 Sprint Cup Series season so far with a broken right leg and a broken left foot.
The detail with which he describes the wreck is jarring. He said his head-on hit was 90 Gs.
“Obviously, it was a huge hit and as soon as it hit, I was awake the whole time, but there was a moment when everything compressed back and I pressed forward – I came through the seat into the seatbelts, into the restraints, all the air in my body escaped … ” Busch said. “It was just pushed out and there is a mark on my helmet – my helmet hit the steering wheel, my chest hit the steering wheel – and when everything from in front of me, the engine, all the chassis works, everything came back to me. As it came back to me, I went forward. The engine hit the one-by-two piece of tubing in the chassis, which then hit the gas pedal and then hit the throttle-stop, which then forced the throttle-stop back towards me three inches farther than what it would normally be at zero percent throttle.
“When it came back to me and I went to it, just the pure smack of my right leg, that’s what broke my right leg. Obviously, being in a car accident with your left foot being on the brake pedal, that’s what broke my mid foot, my foot being on the brake. As soon as the wreck happened, as soon as I hit, I knew instantly that my right leg broke, I could feel it. It was a sharp pain. It wasn’t like – even after the car came to a stop and the crash was over and I was just sitting there – at first I was like, ‘Okay, I’m just going to sit here for a minute and take a breath,’ but a flash fire came through the air box and I was like, ‘Nope, never mind, I have to get out.'”
After figuring his right leg was broken, he wanted to try to use his left leg to get out of the car. When he put pressure on his left foot he knew it was injured too. Upon being pulled from the car, Busch was immediately transported to a Daytona-area hospital before being flown home to North Carolina a few days later.
“I was like how is this going to work, me getting out of the car, so I pulled the steering wheel off, pulled my belts off and I knew my right leg was broke, so I pushed with my left foot to see if I could get out with my left foot,” Busch said. “Nope, I couldn’t push with my left foot because it was instant pain, sharp pain. So I said, ‘Okay, push with the heel,’ so I pushed with the heel, pushed with my left heel and my left heel was fine. I grabbed the roll bars that I normally grab when I get out and pushed with my left foot and I knew if I could just get to the door hopefully the wreckers would be there, the safety crews would be there in time in order to help me get out and pull me out … The guy was going to help me back up, but I’m like nope, we’re not doing that. I had to flip my visor up and talk to him. So I flip my visor open and I turn to him and tell him my right leg is broke and my left foot is broke. I don’t know if he couldn’t hear or if he was shocked, but I told him four times over again so he could hear me. A couple of the guys grabbed me and got me out and when they got me to the ground, obviously I felt somewhat safe at least and ready to go on my ambulance ride.”
Busch spoke for an hour about all aspects of the crash and his recovery, and said he’s still not sure when he’ll be back in a Sprint Cup Series car. David Ragan has been filling in for him on loan from Front Row Motorsports.
“[Medical staff] say my recovery is going faster than they expected, but I’ve even asked – they won’t release a timetable – I’m not lying to you,” Busch said. “They’re like, ‘Now you’re released to stand up in both boots. Now you’re released to walk. Now you’re released to walk without a boot on your right.’ It’s week-by-week and it’s what I can show them and what I can do and what my physical therapist says I’m capable of. As far as a timetable, that’s still not set yet for me to get back. As long as my strength continues to improve and I can continue to show the doctor and the NASCAR folks that I’m able to do the things necessary for me to get back in the race car, then that time will be determined as I get better.”
The wall Busch hit wasn’t covered with a SAFER barrier. Since his accident, many tracks have taken steps to fortify bare concrete walls with SAFER barrier or tires and other forms of protection. Bristol, the site of Sunday’s Sprint Cup Series race, has added extra SAFER barrier.
“Obviously, with the reaction to everything – I’m not going to say I’m happy about what I hit not being protected,” Busch said. “I can’t – that’s just not being honest. I was disappointed that the wall wasn’t covered, but I am encouraged by the acts that the race tracks have taken and the steps they’ve taken in order to get things going and in the right direction for driver safety.”
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