Kurt Busch’s Indefinite Suspension Lifted By NASCARby Hunter Thomas March 11, 2015 0 comments
Photo Credit: Hunter Thomas
By: Hunter Thomas
On Wednesday, NASCAR lifted Kurt Busch’s indefinite suspension and announced that he is still eligible for this year’s edition of The Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
In September of 2014, Busch was accused of assaulting his ex-girlfriend, Patricia Driscoll at Dover International Speedway inside his motor home, and as a result, an Order of Protection from Abuse was issued by the Commissioner of the Family Court of the State of Delaware.
Just two days prior to the 57th running of the Daytona 500 this season, Kurt Busch was found to have violated Section 12.1.a (Actions detrimental to stock car racing) and Section 12.8 (Behavioral Penalty) of the NASCAR Rule Book. Busch’s suspension has now been lifted due to not being criminally charged and by successfully completing instructions given by NASCAR.
The decision to lift the suspension was made by NASCAR after Kurt Busch:
– Complied with all requirements in its 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.
However, Kurt Busch’s road to recovery hasn’t been fully completed, just yet. He will now have “additional steps” that’ll focus on his initial penalties.
“You know, I’m appreciative of the process, of the road to recovery,” Busch said. “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. And the hardest part about all of this has been sitting out watching the 41 car go around the racetrack, especially at the Daytona 500. Atlanta is one of my favorite tracks, and Las Vegas is my hometown track. It’s been torture sitting out of the car.”
In order for a driver to make the 16-car field for The Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, a driver must compete in all of the championship events, but in Kurt Busch’s situation, NASCAR has waived the rule, and he’ll now be able to compete for the championship if he were to earn enough championship points. Since Busch hasn’t competed in an event this season, he currently has no championship points.
“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,” said Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer. “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.”
The 2004 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion has many accolades within the industry, but the road to success has been challenging for Busch. Now that he has an opportunity to get back behind the wheel of a race car in NASCAR competition, he seems very humbled to get back to work and continue to chase his dream.
“You know what I learned, the best thing is or what I have been to deal with and what’s been the hardest is out of the race car,” Busch said. “Being in that race car is a privilege, and it’s a feeling that you can’t describe when you go out there for practice each and every weekend. You drive down into the corner, the car sticks, you stand on the gas, and you drive out of the corner, it’s an experience that not a lot of people get to do, and I get a chance to race against the best in the world in NASCAR.
“Talking with Brian France and going through this road, he told me, he says, don’t change. Don’t be the person that’s different in the car, but be a different person outside of the car, and so Brian said, go be yourself in that car. That’s what we really love. We love Kurt Busch behind the wheel. Go out there, use that passion, go for those wins, and that’s my focus is to be humble through this whole process but let actions speak louder than words.”
Although Busch has missed competing in the prestigious Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway this season, as well as the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway where he has three wins and the Kobalt 400 at his hometown track, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Busch is eager to get back behind the wheel of a race car and set his sights on earning competitive finishes and making a run for the 2015 championship.
“It means the world to me to be back in the car,” Busch said. “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.”
Coverage of the CampingWorld.com 500 at Phoenix International Raceway will air live on FOX and the Motor Racing Network (MRN) at 3:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, March 8.