On Wednesday, NASCAR issued a series of technical bulletins to teams in regards to some rule changes, with one of those standing out.
“Section 2.11 Required Notice.”
“Any NASCAR Member charged with any violation of the law (misdemeanor and/or felony) shall notify NASCAR … prior to the next scheduled Event or within 72 hours of being so charged, whichever is earlier.”
The amendment stems from NASCAR’s top divisions, all the way down to the weekly series. It includes drivers, team owners, crew members, officials and NASCAR employees.
“We expect our NASCAR members to maintain a certain standard of professional behavior and this is another mechanism to ensure we’re doing that,” Tom Bryant, Director of Racing Operations Communication for NASCAR, told FoxSports.com.
These changes stem since Kurt Busch’s suspension at Daytona International Speedway. Bryant told FoxSports, though, that Busch’s situation was not “the sole reason”, but it did “bring into focus” situations of this nature, which NASCAR would like to be made aware of.
NASCAR announced on Friday, February 20th that they have indefinitely suspended Kurt Busch. Busch’s suspension falls under Section 12.1.a: Actions detrimental to stock car racing and Section 12.8: Behavioral Penalty of the 2015 NASCAR Rulebook.
“Given the serious nature of the findings and conclusions made by the Commissioner of the Family Court of the State of Delaware, NASCAR has indefinitely suspended driver Kurt Busch, effective immediately,” NASCAR Vice President Steve O’Donnell said on Friday. “He will not beallowed to race nor participate in any NASCAR activities until further notice.
Busch appealed the suspension to the National Motorsports Appeals Panel and National Motorsports Appeal Officer, with both appeals being denied.
Upon handing down the suspension, NASCAR said the decision was made “following the release today of a supplemental disposition setting forth the findings and conclusions that formed the basis for the Family Court of the State of Delaware’s decision on Monday to issue an Order of Protection from Abuse against him”.
On Monday February 16th, a Kent County Family Court Judge announced that Patricia Driscoll was granted her order for Kurt Busch to stay away from her. The order is good until 2016. Commissioner David Jones released his written conclusion on Friday February 20th, stating that he believed Busch committed an act of domestic violence.
The Court finds by a preponderance of the evidence that, on September 26, 2014, Respondent [Busch] committed an act of domestic violence against Petitioner [Driscoll] by manually strangling her by placing his left hand on her throat, while placing his right hand on her chin and face and smashing her head into the wall of his motor home,” commissioner David Jones wrote in his findings and conclusions. “[Busch’s] version of the events is implausible, does not make sense and is unlikely to be true given the totality of the other evidence admitted at trial.”
Jones also added further that, “The assertion that [Busch] would be chastened from assaulting [Driscoll] for fear of the possibility of physical injury is further discredited, in the Court’s view, by the fact that [Busch] makes his living risking his life on an almost daily basis by aggressively driving a race car at speeds often approaching 200 miles per hour in close contact with others driving in the same manner, at the same speed.”
According to the court order, Busch must stay 100 yards away from Driscoll, her home and workplace. He also is not allowed to phone her, e-mail her, or have any communication by any means. Though when it comes to NASCAR races where they both will be, he has to “maintain the maximum “practicable” distance from her and not attempt to contact her”. Busch will also have to be evaluated for mental health problems related to anger and impulse control; he also isn’t allowed to purchase or possess any firearms or ammunition.
While Busch has not been criminally charged in the case, the findings by the family court were enough for NASCAR to make the decision.
“NASCAR has made it very clear to our entire membership and the broader industry that any actions of abuse will not be tolerated in the industry,” NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer Steve O’Donnell said in Daytona. “I want to make it clear that any inference that there is a culture or a tolerance for this type of behavior is patently false.”