Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports
NASCAR Sprint Cup series driver Kurt Busch has been indefinitely suspended from racing in the NASCAR series and will not be allowed to participate in the Daytona 500 on Sunday.
Busch has been in and out of court proceedings in December and January, after ex-girlfriend Patricia Driscoll lodged a claim that Busch got physically violent with her in the drivers’ motorcoach at Dover International Raceway last September. After the announcement on Monday that Driscoll’s petition for an order of protection was granted, a court commissioner for Kent County, Delaware clarified the petition on Friday stating that “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, Kent County Family Court).” The statement from the court acknowledged that while they were troubled that Driscoll’s testimony and the testimony of Nick Terry from Motor Racing Outreach contradicted each other regarding witness tampering, they still felt the evidence pointed to Busch being violent and thus issued the order of protection.
Attorneys for Busch asked the courts to reconsider the case after the announcement of the protection order was announced, citing new witness testimony not heard in the original protection hearings. It has not been mentioned whether or not the court will hear more testimony regarding the the initial ruling for the order of protection.
By suspending Busch without charges even being pressed, NASCAR’s setting a precedent that any allegation levied against any of it’s drivers, whether they be founded or not are causation for indefinite suspension from their livelihood.
NASCAR responded on Friday by indefinitely suspending Busch as a “behavioral penalty” for “actions detrimental to stock car racing” stating that “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. He will not be allowed to race nor participate in any NASCAR activities until further notice.”
NASCAR statement further went on to explain that “Kurt Busch and his Stewart-Haas Racing team are fully aware of our position and why this decision was made. We will continue to respect the process and timetable of the authorities involved.”
The sanctioning body needs to tread carefully in this case because while, yes, Busch does have an order of protection against him, he has not been officially charged with domestic violence yet by the attorney general’s office of Delaware nor has he been found guilty of that crime. Busch and NASCAR needs to make sure that Busch and Driscoll indeed follow the rules specified in the order of protection, suspending him indefinitely is a drastic move considering a criminal action has not yet been levied against the driver. The order of protection is in place to protect both Driscoll and Busch from each other as the courts (and NASCAR) sort out what exactly transpired between Busch and Driscoll that night in September and if those actions warrant criminal charges.
By suspending Busch without charges being pressed, NASCAR’s setting a precedent that any allegation levied against any of it’s drivers, whether they be founded or not are causation for indefinite suspension from their livelihood. Perhaps Busch’s track availability should be curtailed during the meantime, but indefinite suspension should come after criminal charges are filed against a driver not before.