2004 NASCAR champion Kurt Busch officially retires from Cup Series racing

Kurt Busch leaves the garage after practice for the NASCAR Daytona 500 auto race Friday, Feb. 15, 2019, at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
2004 NASCAR Cup Series champion Kurt Busch announced his retirement on Saturday. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

Kurt Busch’s NASCAR Cup Series career is over.

The 2004 Cup champion announced Saturday that he was “officially retiring” from NASCAR’s top level. Busch has not raced since he suffered a concussion in a practice crash at Pocono in July of 2022.

Busch, 45, said in October that he wouldn’t be back full-time in NASCAR in 2023 but that he hoped to race in a handful of races if he was medically cleared. Busch has been dealing with long-term effects from the concussion after his car backed into the outside wall on the exit of Pocono’s Turn 3.

“Racing requires 100% of focus, heart, stamina and determination and I’ve never raced a day without all of that in mind,” Busch said in his retirement video. “But sometimes Father Time can catch up to your dreams. My incredible team of doctors and I have come to the conclusion that at this point in my recovery there are just too many obstacles for me to overcome and to get back to being 100%.”

Busch finishes his career with 34 wins in 776 career starts. He won a race in all but two of his 22 full-time seasons in the Cup Series and won exactly one race in each of his final seven seasons.

Busch won the 2004 title in just his fourth season at NASCAR’s top level. After a winless rookie season, he won eight races over the 2002 and 2003 seasons. He scored three wins and 21 top-10 finishes in 2004 as he became the first driver to win a title in NASCAR’s postseason format. NASCAR introduced the Chase for the Cup in 2004 as the top 10 drivers in the standings after 26 races competed over the final 10 races for the title.

Busch won the first playoff race and finished in the top 10 in eight of the remaining nine races on the way to the title over Jimmie Johnson by eight points.

Busch spent the first five full seasons of his career with Roush Racing before moving to Team Penske in 2006. Busch missed the last two races of the 2005 season after he was detained following a traffic stop in Arizona.

He parted ways with Team Penske after the 2011 season following a verbal tirade against a reporter at the final race of the season. Busch spent the 2012 season racing for a small team and was suspended for a race during that season because he threatened a reporter.

He joined Stewart-Haas Racing in 2014 and was suspended for the first three races of the 2015 season after an ex-girlfriend obtained a protective order against him. Busch was never charged criminally and was allowed to be eligible for the playoffs after NASCAR reinstated him.

Busch spent five years with SHR before moving to Chip Ganassi Racing in 2019. He left CGR after it was sold at the end of the 2021 season and joined 23XI Racing for the 2022 season. His final win came at Kansas where he led 116 of the race’s 267 laps.