Breaking News from Daytona — NASCAR suspends Kurt Busch reports Jeff Gluck of USA Today Sports …

Posted: February 20, 2015 in Uncategorized

Peter Casey USA TODAY Sports

Jeff Gluck, USA TODAY Sports

6:14 p.m. EST — February 20, 2015

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — NASCAR has suspended 2004 Sprint Cup champion Kurt Busch in the wake of a Delaware court’s ruling on a domestic violence incident with his ex-girlfriend.

The decision comes on the eve of NASCAR’s version of the Super Bowl, the Daytona 500 scheduled for Sunday.

Busch was found to have “more likely than not… committed an act of domestic violence,” Kent County Family Court commissioner David Jones wrote Friday in an opinion regarding the protective order he granted to Patricia Driscoll on Monday.

Busch was to start 24th in the Great American Race. He drove Thursday night in the second Budweiser Duel, a qualifying race that helps set the field, and helped Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Danica Patrick make the race. Afterward, he hugged Patrick on pit road and cupped her face.

The Delaware Attorney General is still evaluating whether to charge Busch with a crime. The Dover police investigated the alleged incident, which occurred in Busch’s motorhome Sept. 26 at Dover International Speedway.

This marks the third career suspension for Busch. He was suspended by former team Roush Racing in 2005 after he was detained by Maricopa County (Ariz.) Sheriff’s deputies during a Phoenix International Raceway weekend. He was then suspended in 2012 after threatening a reporter on pit road at Dover.

Busch has also clashed with drivers, NASCAR officials and reporters at times throughout his career, developing a reputation as a volatile personality.

A Las Vegas native, Busch is considered to be one of the most talented drivers in NASCAR. He won the 2004 Cup championship and has 25 career victories, but his behavior issues have seen him lose rides with Roush and Team Penske.

NASCAR chairman and CEO Brian France has pledged to take a tough stance on domestic violence since the Busch news first broke in November.

He has said that although NASCAR has not taken action for such instances in the past – most notably for driver Travis Kvapil’s domestic violence incident in 2013 – the national conversation around domestic violence has changed. France said NASCAR would wait until there was some form of legal action against Busch before acting – and apparently, the commissioner’s written opinion on Friday was enough to make the call.

“Until they make some judgments on that investigation, it wouldn’t be right of us to just intervene before they’ve even gotten the investigation completed,” France said in November. “So that’s our position. We’ll respect their process. It’s in their hands.”

And in January, France took a similar stance.

“I’m sure most other leagues, as well, when there are those clear circumstances, have a much more severe reaction to how you deal with those things, and that will be no different with NASCAR,” he said. “The only thing we want to do is, and this is important, we’ve got to let the facts come in. There would be no reason for me or NASCAR or anybody else to get ahead of those facts given that they may change. Let’s let the facts come in, and if there’s something for us to react to, you can appreciate that we will be very careful and very aware of what the circumstances are.”

Driscoll asked the Kent County court for a protective order, and unusual testimony played out in a four-day hearing that took place over two months. Busch accused Driscoll of being a trained assassin who would have no reason to fear him; Driscoll said she feared for her safety after Busch allegedly slammed her head against a wall three times.

There was no immediate word on who would replace Busch in SHR’s No. 41 car, which carries sponsorship from co-owner Gene Haas’ machine tools company, Haas Automation.

In his reasoning Jones said he believed Busch abused 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, thereby recklessly placing (Driscoll) in reasonable fear of physical injury.”

The Sept. 26 incident at Dover International Speedway caused Driscoll “to suffer bruising and substantial and prolonged pain to her head, neck and throat” and that “a reasonable person would have found it threatening or harmful.”

Although the court agreed their relationship was over, it said a protective order was “necessary and appropriate to reduce the likelihood of domestic violence.”

SHR did not immediately comment..

Photo Credit — Peter Casey USA TODAY Sports

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