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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Kyle Busch broke his right leg and left foot in a vicious hit Saturday into a concrete wall during the Xfinity Series race. He'll miss the Daytona 500 on Sunday and is out indefinitely.
Busch sustained a right lower leg compound fracture and left mid-foot fracture in the crash with eight laps remaining. Joe Gibbs Racing said he had surgery to repair his left leg, was resting comfortably and will remain hospitalized for observation.
Later Saturday night, NASCAR's final appeals officer upheld Kurt Busch's indefinite suspension for an alleged domestic assault on an ex-girlfriend last fall. It means the Daytona 500 will not have one of the Busch brothers in the field for the first time since 2000.
Matt Crafton, a two-time Truck Series champion, will replace Busch in the No. 18 Toyota on Sunday in the season-opening Sprint Cup Series race. It will be Crafton's Daytona 500 debut.
Busch's injury occurred when his car slammed head-on into an interior wall that did not have an energy-absorbing SAFER barrier. It's a similar injury to the one suffered by Tony Stewart in an August 2013 sprint car crash, but not as severe as Stewart's was a double compound fracture.
Stewart missed the final 15 races of 2013, couldn't get in a race car until February, 2014, and underwent a fourth surgery in December to replace the rod in his leg. He walked with a limp for more than a year.
Stewart tweeted that he "felt terrible" for his former teammate. "He's tough and will bounce back soon. Thinking about you bud!" the three-time NASCAR champion posted.
A somber Joie Chitwood, president of Daytona International Speedway, said the track failed in not having the soft walls and will start next week on having them installed "on every inch of our property."
"The Daytona International Speedway did not live up to its responsibility today. We should have had SAFER barrier there," Chitwood said. "We're going to fix that. We're going to fix that right now."
Track officials will install tire packs along that 850-foot linear square foot of wall that Busch hit in time for the Daytona 500 on Sunday. Chitwood said planning on covering the entire 2.5-mile facility would begin Monday.
"This is not going to happen again. We're going to live up to our responsibility," Chitwood said. "We really can't mention financials as a reason for this. Come Monday, we're going to start the plan to put SAFER barrier everywhere here and finances don't come into play. That's really not a question."
Following the hit, Busch was only able to climb halfway through his window and was pointing in the direction of his right leg when rescue personnel arrived.
Busch was pulled from the car and laid on the ground, and his leg appeared to be stabilized in a splint before he was placed on a stretcher then into an ambulance. His wife, Samantha, was crying as she left the infield care center with team owner Joe Gibbs and team president J.D. Gibbs. Samantha Busch is pregnant with the couple's first child, a boy due in May.
Busch was transported to a hospital, and NASCAR announced roughly an hour later that Busch won't participate Sunday in the Sprint Cup Series' season-opening Daytona 500.
As Busch was being treated in a hospital, older brother Kurt was in front of NASCAR's final appeals officer trying to get his indefinite suspension lifted.
Stewart-Haas Racing will use Regan Smith in the Daytona 500 as Kurt Busch's replacement.
Ryan Reed won the race, his first career national series victory, in the debut event for Xfinity as sponsor of NASCAR's second-tier series.
Reed, the 21-year-old driver for Roush Fenway Racing, passed Brad Keselowski for the lead on the last lap to grab the win. Diagnosed four years ago with Type 1 diabetes, Reed thanked sponsor Eli Lilly, which runs a "Drive to Stop Diabetes" campaign.