More than seven hours after the Delaware Department of Justice said Kurt Busch will not face criminal charges for his role in an alleged assault of former girlfriend Patricia Driscoll last September at Dover International Speedway, NASCAR said Busch’s suspension remains intact.
"NASCAR is aware of the … announcement today regarding driver Kurt Busch," the organization said in a statement Thursday evening. "As we disclosed Monday, he has accepted the terms and conditions of a reinstatement program and is actively participating in the program. Kurt Busch’s eligibility for reinstatement will continue to be governed by that program and the NASCAR Rule Book, though the elimination of the possibility of criminal charges certainly removes a significant impediment to his reinstatement."
Earlier in the day, Busch’s representatives issued a statement on his behalf.
"I am grateful that the prosecutors in Delaware listened, carefully considered the evidence, and after a thorough investigation decided to not file criminal charges against me," Busch said. "I wish to thank my family, friends, fans, and race team who stood by me throughout this nightmare with their unwavering support. Thanks also goes to my legal team for making sure that the truth got out and was fully provided to the prosecutors. As I have said from the beginning, I did not commit domestic abuse. I look forward to being back in racing as soon as possible and moving on with my life."
Busch was suspended indefinitely by NASCAR on Feb. 20, after a Delaware family court commissioner approved Driscoll’s request for an order of no-contact, forbidding Busch from getting within 100 yards of her, except at NASCAR races and related events where closer proximity is required for Busch to "perform his duties as a driver or sponsored athlete."
On the decision not to pursue charges, Driscoll said in a prepared statement she was disappointed that "full justice" was not served. Driscoll also suggested media coverage of the case was marked by "distortions" and "sensationalism." She offered no specifics.
Mark Dycio, an attorney for Driscoll, suggested the decision not to bring charges may have been based not on law, but on Delaware prosecutors’ desire to avoid "a media circus."
"(I)t seems impossible that the attorney general’s office made this decision on burden of proof grounds," Dycio said in a prepared statement. "It would be unfortunate, and a terrible precedent for victims of abuse, if the prospect of inviting a media circus fueled by Mr. Busch’s wealth, notoriety, and hostile PR team in any way swayed this decision."
The attorney general’s office declined to comment on Dycio’s statement.
David Higdon, NASCAR’s vice president, integrated marketing communications, told FOXSports.com on Monday that Busch agreed late last week to NASCAR’s requirements in seeking reinstatement. According to Higdon, NASCAR told Busch, "These are our terms and conditions that must be met before he’s eligible for consideration for reinstatement of his NASCAR license."
Higdon would not disclose specifics on what those terms and conditions are, nor would he say if Busch could return to the No. 41 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet this year.
Higdon said Busch would work with an independent expert who will help determine whether Busch should be reinstated.
"Ultimately, we will expect a report back from the expert that we’ve asked to institute the program, in terms of when and if he’s recommending a reinstatement," said Higdon. "To be clear . . . there are other things in our terms and conditions that kind of go outside the realm of the expert, so it would have to meet our overall (terms and conditions)."
When Busch was suspended, Chevrolet also terminated its personal services contract with the driver. A Chevrolet representative confirmed to FOXSports.com Thursday that Busch has not been reinstated with the automaker.