NASCAR announced on Wednesday, March 11th that Kurt Busch has been reinstated and is eligible to return to NASCAR racing under an indefinite probation subject to additional mandatory requirements. These requirements could “include but are not limited to participation in a treatment program and full compliance with any judicial requirements placed upon him”.
“It means the world to me to be back in the car,” Busch commented. “It’s been a tough situation the last few months, and I’ve gone through this with confidence knowing that I know the truth and that I never did any of the things that I was accused of. It was a complete fabrication.
“But it’s unfortunate that my personal life crossed over and affected my business life, but I can’t wait to get to the track, to see my team, to shake their hands and say thanks for the support, and to go out there and make my first lap this weekend.”
Busch added that he understood NASCAR’s reason for the suspension, and says his confidence in the truth had him believing that he’d be back in a car soon.
“The important factor is that what I was accused of was a complete fabrication, and I never wavered through this whole process because of the confidence in the truth, and I had the support from Gene Haas and everybody at SHR, and that’s where my focus has been,” he commented. “It’s been on the racing side of it, and I never lost that confidence and that drive, and so it’s a humbling experience, but it’s made me more focused and determined.”
NASCAR announced on Friday, February 20th that they had indefinitely suspended Kurt Busch under Section 12.1.a: Actions detrimental to stock car racing and Section 12.8: Behavioral Penalty of the 2015 NASCAR Rulebook. 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. Busch is currently in the process of appealing the decision.
“I have my attorneys handling the pending appeals, and I’ll leave that to them,” he commented. “My focus is with the race team, with Gene Haas and everybody at Haas Automation to get our Chevy into victory lane and to continue moving forward.”
On Thursday, March 5th, the Delaware Attorney General’s office announced that they would not charge Kurt Busch with regards to the accusations made by Patricia Driscoll. The department issued the folliwing statement: “The Delaware Department of Justice has carefully reviewed the complaint made of an alleged act of domestic violence involving Kurt Busch in Dover on September 26, 2014, which was reported to the Dover Police Department on Nov. 5, 2014 and investigated. After a thorough consideration of all of the available information about the case, it is determined that the admissible evidence and available witnesses would likely be insufficient to meet the burden of establishing beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Busch committed a crime during the September 26th incident. Likelihood of meeting that high burden of proof is the standard for prosecutors in bringing a case. For this reason, the Department of Justice will not pursue criminal charges in this case.”
NASCAR decided to now lift the suspension as he complied with all the requirements of the reinstatement program, completed the mandatory behavioral assessment sessions, and the “behavioral health care expert who conducted the sessions recommended to NASCAR that Kurt Busch be allowed to return to competition”. NASCAR added that he will now “undergo additional steps to address the behavior for which he was penalized”.
“I’m appreciative of the process, of the road to recovery,” Busch commented. “To me it’s a roadmap that they laid out that I am respecting. It’s created such a good foundation to utilize moving forward that I wish I would have done it sooner.”
NASCAR also announced that Kurt Busch will eligible to be part of the Chase for the Championship, waving the “requirement that a driver must compete in all Championship Events of the current season”.
“As we stated last week, the elimination of the possibility of criminal charges removed a significant impediment to Kurt Busch’s return to full status as a NASCAR member,” Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer, said. “We therefore have decided to move him to indefinite probation and waive the Chase requirement. He has fully complied with our reinstatement program during his suspension and the health care expert who conducted his evaluation recommended his immediate return.
“We have made it very clear to Kurt Busch our expectations for him moving forward, which includes participation in a treatment program and full compliance with all judicial requirements as a result of his off-track behavior.”
Busch feels that he can still make the Chase for the Sprint Cup, based on the strength of the Stewart-Haas Racing organization.
“Kevin Harvick is a winner already this year,” he commented of his teammate. “Him and Rodney Childers have gone above and beyond what we all expected them to do here, and with Tony Gibson, he has that team in place, and we proved that at the end of last year with our top finishes of the year those last three races.
“I hope to start off this year in that same pattern, and my start is a little late. It’s at Phoenix. So I’m looking forward to it. I believe I’ve got cars that are capable of winning races, now I’ve just got to go out there and do my job.”
Following the announcement, both Stewart-Haas Racing and Chevrolet released a statement. Those statements are below.
Joe Custer, Executive VP of Stewart-Haas Racing — “We appreciate the steps Kurt Busch has made while following NASCAR’s process for reinstatement. He has taken this path seriously, which allowed him to return to our race team. With his reinstatement and the conclusion by the Delaware Attorney General to not file charges, our focus is on the future.”
Jim Campbell, Chevrolet vice president of Performance Vehicles and Motorsports — “Now that Kurt Busch has been reinstated by NASCAR and is able to fulfill his obligations associated with our agreement, we have lifted our suspension and will continue to monitor the situation.”