Joe Gibbs Racing driver Kyle Busch, sidelined since the start of the season with a broken right leg and broken left foot, will return for the Sprint All-Star Race this weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch suffered the injuries in a Feb. 21 accident at Daytona International Speedway, where his Xfinity Series car slammed into a concrete wall on the inside of the track heading into Turn 1. He has missed the first 11 races of the season.
Busch announced his return on Twitter.
With a rod in his right leg and plates and screws in his left foot, Busch has tested his late model stock car twice in the past two weeks. NASCAR rules forbid him from testing a NASCAR stock car except for its official open test dates that are scattered throughout the season.
Busch drove more than 300 laps at the half-mile Greenville-Pickens (S.C.) Speedway two weeks ago and then did another test at the 0.363-mile Hickory (N.C.) Motor Speedway last week. His doctors gave him his official clearance Monday.
He said Tuesday afternoon he has some soreness in his foot after testing but no real pain. His only concern is the amount of time on his feet during a race weekend, and he plans to have JGR development driver Erik Jones on standby the next few weeks in case he cannot race -- or if his wife, Samantha, who is due to give birth May 22, goes into labor.
"It would have been great back in February to say we were looking at the All-Star Race, but truthfully not a lot of people would have bet I could be back by then," said Busch, whose rehab included some days of six hours of therapy.
"It's been a process. You can only take it one step at a time. ... [The doctors say] it's just been a remarkable time frame in which I've been able to make as much progress as I have as quickly as I have."
The 90-minute practice session Friday and 110-lap All-Star Race on Saturday night will give Busch an opportunity to see how he feels prior to NASCAR's longest race -- 400 laps, 600 miles -- May 24 at Charlotte. No matter when he would return over the next month, Busch would face a challenge because he brakes with his left foot and all of the upcoming races will require a significant amount of braking.
NASCAR has not announced whether Busch would be eligible for a waiver to have missed 11 races and remain eligible for the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Even with a win, unless NASCAR also waives the top-30 rule, he would have 15 races to get into the top 30 to be eligible for the Chase; Tony Stewart currently sits in 30th with 179 points. With the possibility that Stewart could break out of his slump, Busch likely would have to average around a 14th-place finish over the next 15 events to have a decent shot of finishing in the top 30. Last year, Busch averaged a 17th-place finish.
Busch, who has 29 career Cup victories and has finished in the top 10 in 178 of his 365 career starts, said there has been "good dialogue" with NASCAR about the waivers but he has not been given a final decision.
"We're going to go and run the rest of the year and see if the success can continue like it had before the crash and that we're able to run consistent enough to get ourselves in the top 30 in points and maybe get a win in order to get ourselves Chase eligible and we'll wait for NASCAR's decision on a ruling for that eligibility," Busch said.
"The biggest thing I miss is being able to hold up trophies [and] being in Victory Lane is probably the biggest thing," Busch said. "My teammate Denny Hamlin has won, and my teammate Matt Kenseth has won. Besides those races that they have won, it may have looked like we've kind of struggled a little bit as an organization, but I'm excited to get back."