NASCAR has denied Kurt Busch’s appeal of his indefinite suspension. A three-member panel heard the appeal Saturday in the NASCAR office complex across the street from the Daytona International Speedway sight of Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Daytona 500. Busch however indicated through his lawyer that he will continue to appeal until all avenues are exhausted. Late Saturday night his final appeal was heard and denied.
NASCAR suspended Busch late Friday for an indefinite period after a judge in Delaware issued his brief concerning the issuance of a protective order earlier in the week. The judge’s brief stated that Busch indeed “committed an act of domestic violence” against his ex-girlfriend Patricia Driscoll during an incident Sept. 26 at Dover International Speedway. The ruling also stated that Driscoll had “bruising and substantial and prolonged pain to her head, neck and throat.”
Monday the court ruled in Driscoll’s favor and issued a protective order. The order, which is in force until the end of the year, says Busch has to stay 100 yards away from Driscoll, her home and workplace. At NASCAR races he has to maintain the maximum “practicable” distance from her and not attempt to contact her.
Busch’s lawyer filed an appeal of the ruling concerning the protective order and was present for the hearing although not allowed inside the hear room. Busch however was present and did testify before the panel that consisted of Paul Brooks, Lyn St. James and Kevin Whittaker. Representing NASCAR was Jim Cassidy, Senior Vice President of Racing Operations. Busch left the hearing and the area just before 3 p.m. ET the decision was announced shortly after.
NASCAR said Busch has the right to appeal the decision to the Final Appeals Officer, Bryan Moss. Busch must inform NASCAR of his intent to do so within the guidelines provided to him. The Final Appeals Officer indicated that he would hear the final appeal, if requested, Saturday evening at the International Motorsports Center in Daytona Beach. Busch’s lawyer Rusty Hardin indicated shortly after the appeal decision was announced that they will use that final appeal Saturday night.
“We are very disappointed that our appeal was rejected by NASCAR’s appeal panel,” Hardin said in an emailed statement.” We are re-appealing immediately, per the proscribed process. We have significant and strong evidence that contradicts the Commissioner’s conclusions. In the end we are confident that Kurt will be vindicated and he will be back racing. Until then we will continue to fight on his behalf by ensuring that the entire truth is known.”
Busch has been replaced for Sunday’s Daytona 500 by driver Regan Smith. Earlier Saturday, Smith met with the media Saturday morning. During that press conference, a spokesperson for Stewart-Haas Racing reiterated that no matter the outcome of any appeal the team still plans to have Smith in the car Sunday.
Late Saturday the National Motorsports Final Appeals Officer, Bryan Moss heard the final appeal. He sided with the earlier ruling. NASCAR released a statement that read in part:
Upon hearing tonight’s testimony, Bryan Moss, the National Motorsports Final Appeals Officer, made the following decisions:
· The appellant violated the Rules set forth in the penalty notice and the decision of the National Motorsports Appeals Panel was correct;
· The penalty was within the scope of the guidelines;
· The National Motorsports Final Appeals Officer upholds the original penalty levied by NASCAR
The decision of the National Motorsports Final Appeals Officer is final and binding on all parties.
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.