David Ragan will serve as interim driver in place of injured Kyle Busch for the foreseeable future starting this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Joe Gibbs Racing made the announcement Tuesday via email. Ragan is a veteran in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series will race the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota as Busch continues his recovery from multiple lower-leg injuries suffered in a crash Saturday at Daytona International Speedway.
Busch was transferred from a Daytona Beach hospital to North Carolina Tuesday to continue his recovery from a broken lower right leg, and a broken left foot. Busch underwent surgery on his right leg Saturday night and is expected to have surgery on his foot in the near future. A timetable for Busch’s return to racing has not been set. Matt Crafton, two-time champion in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, finished 18th as fill-in for Busch in last Sunday’s season-opening Daytona 500.
Ragan normally races for Front Row Motorsports. That team and primary sponsor CSX accommodated Ragan’s move, according to Gibbs. Front Row said there is no announcement as to who will fill Ragan’s seat at Atlanta.
“We appreciate being able to work with Front Row Motorsports and CSX for David’s (Ragan) availability,” said Joe Gibbs, owner of Joe Gibbs Racing. “We are fortunate to be able to have someone of David’s caliber behind the wheel while Kyle recovers.”
Erik Jones will race the NASCAR XFINITY Series No. 54 Toyota at Atlanta for JGR. Busch was to compete in the XFINITY Series’ Hisense 250 (Saturday, 2 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1) at Atlanta.
“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,” Gibbs said. “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.”
The 29-year old Ragan raced the Front Row Motorsports’ No. 34 Ford in Sunday’s Daytona 500 to a 17th place finish. He has competed in the last three NASCAR Sprint Cup Series seasons. He scored Front Row its only Sprint Cup series victory in May 2013 at Talladega Superspeedway. Prior to Front Row, Ragan raced for Roush Fenway Racing from 2007-2011. The temporary move to JGR will team Ragan with current JGR drivers Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards. All three were at Roush Fenway during the 2011 Sprint Cup Series season.
Erik Jones won three Truck Series races last year and is a four-time winner in his career. He ranks second in the Camping World Truck Series points after his runner-up finish in the Truck series Daytona opener. He was already scheduled to compete in the full truck season for Kyle Busch Motorsports, and was expected to race in 10 XFINITY events for Joe Gibbs Racing.