Former NASCAR champ Kurt Busch suspended

Posted at 6:50 PM, Feb 20, 2015
and last updated 2015-02-20 23:52:52-05

DAYTONA, Fla. -- Kurt Busch, the 2004 NASCAR top series champion, has been suspended indefinitely from NASCAR events, the auto racing circuit said Friday.

The suspension comes after a court determined Busch committed an act of domestic violence against his former girlfriend, Patricia Driscoll, NASCAR officials told CNN.

"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," NASCAR said in a news release.

Busch's attorney, Rusty Hardin, said in a written statement that his client will immediately appeal NASCAR's decision. Busch has not yet been charged with a crime.

"We assure everyone, including NASCAR, that this action against Mr. Busch will turn out to be a travesty of justice, apparent to all, as this story continues to unfold," Hardin said.

NASCAR will expedite any appeal, NASCAR Executive Vice President Steve O'Donnell told reporters.

"NASCAR has made it very clear to our entire membership ... that any actions of abuse will not be tolerated," O'Donnell said.

"Chevrolet has suspended its relationship with Kurt Busch indefinitely," Chevrolet vice president of motor sports and performance vehicles Jim Campbell said in a statement released by the manufacturer. "We will continue to monitor the events surrounding Mr. Busch and are prepared to take additional action if necessary."

The racing season officially begins Sunday with the Daytona 500. Busch could still race if his suspension is overturned in the appeals process. However, Busch would have to represent himself at a NASCAR appeal and cannot have his lawyer present.

If Busch does not drive, Regan Smith is scheduled to take his place.

Busch was accused by Driscoll of grabbing her by the throat and slamming her head into a wall three times while they were in Busch's motor home at Dover International Speedway in October. The judge in the civil case found her story to be true, ESPN reported. Hardin's statement said Driscoll had lied during her testimony and she had tried to intimidate witnesses.

"The evidence was un-contradicted that Ms. Driscoll committed the criminal offense of trespass when she entered his motor home at night, while he was sleeping, uninvited, without permission, and refused to leave when he repeatedly asked her to get out" Hardin said.

"Mr. Busch's conduct was totally reasonable and legal under the circumstances. He never intentionally, knowingly or recklessly caused her any injury."

Driscoll also released a statement:

"For victims of domestic violence there are no "victories." My only hope is that the pain and trauma I suffered through this process will help other victims find their voice. Unfortunately we live in a culture where stories like mine are often swept under the rug out of fear and with the knowledge that for every person who shows empathy many more will seek to disparage the victim. It is bad enough to endure the actual physical abuse but the verbal attacks that follow when a victim speaks up are sometimes just as painful.

Today NASCAR took an important step and deserves to be commended. The next steps are to develop a thorough process and policies that reenforce the organization's position it took today: Domestic violence will not be tolerated in NASCAR."

In 2004, Busch captured the Cup series title, winning NASCAR's first postseason 10-race tournament.