There were some big winners – and equally big losers – at Daytona Beach over the weekend. Coming up smiling was Joey Logano, the 24-year-old Team Penske driver who took the checkered flag.
Among those less than happy with the results of the Daytona 500 were Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon and the two Busch brothers. Kyle Busch suffered a compound leg fracture in a Saturday race. And his brother Kurt was sidelined on Sunday after league officials upheld an indefinite suspension for an alleged domestic violence incident last autumn.
It marked the first time neither of the Busch brothers were in the field for the “Great American Race” since 2000. But even if Kyle recuperates quickly enough to re-enter the series later this year, it is far from clear what will happen with Kurt Busch. He not only has been sidelined by NASCAR, but has had his relationship with long-time sponsor Chevrolet put on hold.
“Chevrolet has suspended its relationship with Kurt Busch indefinitely,” the maker said in a statement. “We will continue to monitor the events surrounding Mr. Busch and are prepared to take additional action if necessary.”
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Kurt Busch’s problems stem from an incident that occurred at his motorhome when it was at the Dover International Speedway last autumn. A judge in Delaware said there was strong evidence that the racer had choked and beaten girlfriend Patricia Driscoll. That led to his suspension.
Busch lost his first appeal before a three-judge panel but was hoping to get reinstated in time for Sunday’s race, until a second appeals officer stood by the decision.
“The decision of the National Motorsports Final Appeals Officer is final and binding on all parties,” read a statement from NASCAR. “Kurt Busch now has exhausted his appeal options under the NASCAR rulebook, and the indefinite suspension remains in effect. He will not be allowed to race nor participate in any NASCAR activities until further notice.”
Busch declined to comment after the ruling, but the driver’s attorney, Rusty Hardin told reporters, “We are unhappy with the latest decision to deny our re-appeal, but we will continue to exhaust every procedural and legal remedy we have available to us until Kurt Busch is vindicated.”
For his part, Busch has insisted he only cupped Driscoll’s face while ordering her out of the motorhome. And attorney Hardin said that in the court battle ahead, “We intend to continue to call attention to the facts and witnesses that will shed light on Ms. Driscoll’s true character, motivations and history.”
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As for Busch, a look at his own history shows this is the third time the 36-year-old champ has been suspended by NASCAR. But this one could be particularly costly for the Stewart-Haas Racing team. Co-owner Gene Haas had personally funded the Busch car, betting that the winner of the 2004 Daytona 500 could deliver a solid series of podium finishes this year.
As for Kyle Busch, his crash has also generated controversy, as he might not have been injured had his car spun out across the Daytona grass infield and struck a wall equipped with NASCAR’s energy-absorbing SAFER barrier.
Developed following the 2001 death of legendary NASCAR champ Dale Earnhardt, it uses a blend of steel and foam to soften the forces of a high-speed blow. But costing about $500 a foot, the Daytona track only uses the SAFER barrier at select points where crashes are deemed especially likely.
“It’s beyond me why we don’t have soft walls everywhere,” six-time champion Jimmie Johnson tweeted after the Kyle Busch crash.
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5 responses to “Chevy Severs Ties with Kurt Busch Over Domestic Violence Issue”
It’s surprising to see GM and NASCAR take what many people believe to be the proper action regarding Kurt Busch for his participation in this abuse case. In the past NASCAR sat by and did nothing when Travis Kvapil – another NASCAR driver plead guilty to domestic abuse. That did not sit well with most reasonable people.
According to the judge in this case, Busch’s story of the events is “implausible” and Driscoll’s story is far more believable. Both will get their day(s) in court as there is a civil trial now and a potential for a criminal trial if prosecutors can prove Busch attacked/abused his ex-girlfriend.
What’s even more important IMO than just a conviction, is proper punishment and treatment for the clear rage issues that both Kurt and his brother Kyle (a.k.a. “Rowdy”)Busch have exhibited publicly numerous times. IMO, we don’t need any more “statistics” to understand that these two people need professional help. Why they have not been forced to accept this treatment to continue their participation in NASCAR (or life in general) is unclear.
What happened to innocent until proven guilty?
With the focus on domestic violence, things have shifted in professional sports, Dano.
The judge in the case carefully reviewed the evidence and incident reports from both parties before issuing a protective order. The reason the protective order was issued is because Busch is believed to have assaulted Driscoll and that he is thus a threat to her well being.
Both parties will get their day(s) in court. Based on the very strong wording of the judge’s statements, there is a strong possibility that criminal charges will be filed against Busch if the prosecutors have sufficient evidence that they feel will provide a conviction. The bottom line is there is no doubt in the court’s mind that the attack occurred and so the judicial process will proceed.
That being the case, NASCAR and GM want to distance themselves from Busch who has a history of public rage as does his younger brother Kyle. After NASCAR failed to respond appropriately in the Travis Kvapil incident, they received a lot of criticism, as they should have. They don’t want to make the same mistake twice.
It’s worth noting that Indycar also posted notice yesterday that they do not expect Busch to compete in that series and implied they would not allow him to do so if he tried, while under the current abuse judicial case.
You have no clue what your talking about and i bet you feel like a idiot after no chgarges were filed today. He didnt do anything wrong. And the busch brothers have no more rage problems then any other driver out there. There is only a DBL standard if your name isnt gordon johnson or JR. AND YTOU KNOW THAT IS TRUE!
Sorry about typos ticked when people dont know what they are talking about