Joe Gibbs Racing announced on Tuesday, February 24th that David Ragan will fill in for Kyle Busch behind the wheel of the No. 18 M&Ms Crispy Toyota in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series beginning with this weekend’s race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
“We appreciate being able to work with Front Row Motorsports and CSX for David’s (Ragan) availability,” Joe Gibbs, owner of Joe Gibbs Racing, said. “We are fortunate to be able to have someone of David’s caliber behind the wheel while Kyle recovers. Erik (Jones) 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. 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.”
In Saturday’s XFINITY race at Daytona International Speedway, Busch sustained a compound fracture of the right lower leg and a mid-foot fracture of his left foot in the accident. Busch was released from Halifax Health Medical Center in Daytona Beach, FL and transferred to a hospital near his home in Charlotte, North Carolina for further treatment. Matt Crafton filled in for Busch in the Daytona 500, finishing 19th.
As of right now, there is no specific timetable for Busch’s return to the track as per Joe Gibbs Racing, “it is expected that Ragan will pilot the No. 18 M&Ms Crispy Toyota for at least the next several weeks”. Ragan was scheduled to run the full Sprint Cup Series schedule for Front Row Motorsports with sponsor CSX, and will return to that ride later this season. Front Row Motorsports has yet to announce an interim driver.
Ragan has run eight full seasons in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with 291 career starts. The 29-year-old Georgia native has two career wins, including most recently at Talladega Superspeedway in May of 2013.
“Everyone at Mars is thankful that Kyle is doing well and we continue to wish him a speedy recovery,” William Clements, vice president of sponsorship and sports marketing for Mars Incorporated, said. “While we can’t wait until Kyle returns behind the wheel of the No. 18 M&Ms Crispy Toyota, we are excited to work with David and we’re pleased JGR was able to work it out for him to step in during Kyle’s absence.”
JGR also announced that Erik Jones will pilot the No. 54 Monster Energy Toyota in the NASCAR XFINITY Series this weekend in Atlanta. As for who will drive beyond Atlanta, JGR says the announcement will be made at a later date. Jones is currently running a full season in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series for Kyle Busch Motorsports and a partial schedule for JGR in the No. 20 NASCAR XFINITY Series Camry.