Hours after NASCAR reinstated him, Kurt Busch met with the media Wednesday. The embattled driver has remained mostly silent since his ex-girlfriend Patricia Driscoll accused him of domestic battery last year.
The incident occurred while NASCAR was at Dover International Speedway during the weekend of Sept. 26-28 last year. In November, Driscoll reported the incident to police and filed for the protective order at the same time alleging that Busch was verbally abusive and that he wished he “had a gun so he could kill himself.” As a result of the incident Driscoll asked a Delaware court that Busch,36, be evaluated by a psychiatrist and that he stay away from her and her son and that a protective order be issued. The hearing for that protective order wrapped up several January 13. The protective order was granted by the court on Feb. 16.
Busch was suspended by NASCAR on Feb. 20. The suspension came after the commissioner in Delaware published his reasoning for issuance of the protective order. Busch appealed the suspension and was denied by NASCAR. Last Thursday the Delaware Attorney General’s office said that no charges will be filed in the domestic battery complaint. Wednesday NASCAR cleared Busch to return to competition. The sanctioning body released a statement saying that he will remain under indefinite probation and be subject to additional mandatory requirements that NASCAR said includes, but are not limited to participation in a treatment program and full compliance with any judicial requirements placed upon him.
“It means the world to me to be back in the car,” Busch told reporters via a teleconference shortly after NASCAR announcement. “It’s been a tough situation the last few months, and I’ve gone through this with confidence knowing that I know the truth and that I never did any of the things that I was accused of. It was a complete fabrication.”
“But it’s unfortunate that my personal life crossed over and affected my business life,” he added. “But I can’t wait to get to the track, to see my team, to shake their hands and say thanks for the support, and to go out there and make my first lap this weekend.”
Busch said that he plans no appeals. While there will be no criminal charges, the protective order remains in effect through the end of the year.
“What’s happened so far in court, there’s been no winners,” Busch said. “Everybody has lost on that portion of it.”
“I have my attorneys handling the pending appeals, and I’ll leave that to them,” he added. “My focus is with the race team, with Gene Haas and everybody at Haas Automation to get our Chevy into victory lane and to continue moving forward.”
Busch seems understanding of NASCAR’s actions when it came to his suspension. Now that it’s starting to be put to rest, he seems ready to get back racing.
“I understand why NASCAR needed to take the action that it did,” Busch said. “This is a very serious issue. I mean, the way that NASCAR reacted, it was different than what we had been told all along. They were more focused on the criminal side, as were we, but the commissioner’s ruling was not necessarily what was the important factor here. The important factor is that what I was accused of was a complete fabrication, and I never wavered through this whole process because of the confidence in the truth, and I had the support from Gene Haas and everybody at SHR, and that’s where my focus has been. It’s been on the racing side of it, and I never lost that confidence and that drive, and so it’s a humbling experience, but it’s made me more focused and determined.”
Busch said he is ready to do what he does best. Known by the nickname “Outlaw” Busch doesn’t seem to be too concerned with his reputation.
“You know, my focus is the race car,” he said. “ My reputation has always been what I’ve done behind the wheel, and it’s moments that I hope to battle and put out on the track like I did with Ricky Craven in the closest finish in the history of NASCAR. It’s to focus on the wins at the tracks that I haven’t won on or to deliver for Gene Haas on the trophies that he signed me on for that he wants in his trophy room.”
“My reputation will iron itself out in whichever way that it is,” he added. “But my focus is the race car, and as I move forward, I’m putting my signature above the door of the car, and I’m proud to have my signature on the side of a car that Gene Haas has and to carry his name into victory lane.”
NASCAR granted a waiver to Busch that will make him eligible for this year’s Chase for the championship. Having missed the first three races of the year however, Busch will have a tough time competing for a title this season. However, he feels the elements are there.
“It’s working with the great group of people at Stewart‑Haas Racing,” Busch said. “Kevin Harvick is a winner already this year. Him and Rodney Childers have gone above and beyond what we all expected them to do here, and with Tony Gibson, he has that team in place, and we proved that at the end of last year with our top finishes of the year those last three races.”
“I hope to start off this year in that same pattern, and my start is a little late,” he added. “ It’s at Phoenix. So I’m looking forward to it. I believe I’ve got cars that are capable of winning races, now I’ve just got to go out there and do my job.”
Busch didn’t give any details of what NASCAR has told him they expect in the coming months. However, he said he does respect the program.
“You know, I’m appreciative of the process, of the road to recovery.,” he said. “To me it’s a roadmap that they laid out that I am respecting. It’s created such a good foundation to utilize moving forward that I wish I would have done it sooner. And the hardest part about all of this has been sitting out watching the 41 car go around the racetrack, especially at the Daytona 500. Atlanta is one of my favorite tracks, and Las Vegas is my hometown track. It’s been torture sitting out of the car.”
Finally Busch revealed what he has learned since being away from the car. He talked about an intimate conversation he had with NASCAR CEO Brian France.
“You know what I learned,” he said. “The best thing is or what I have been to deal with and what’s been the hardest is out of the race car. Being in that race car is a privilege, and it’s a feeling that you can’t describe when you go out there for practice each and every weekend. You drive down into the corner, the car sticks, you stand on the gas, and you drive out of the corner, it’s an experience that not a lot of people get to do, and I get a chance to race against the best in the world in NASCAR.”
“Talking with Brian France and going through this road, he told me, he says, don’t change,” he added. “Don’t be the person that’s different in the car, but be a different person outside of the car, and so Brian said, go be yourself in that car. That’s what we really love. We love Kurt Busch behind the wheel. Go out there, use that passion, go for those wins, and that’s my focus is to be humble through this whole process but let actions speak louder than words.”
The NASCAR Sprint Cup series and Kurt Busch are headed to Phoenix International Raceway this weekend. The Campingworld.com 500 will be seen Sunday live on Fox at 3:30 p.m. ET.