NASCAR on Wednesday lifted a 3-week-old suspension of driver Kurt Busch that was prompted by domestic-violence allegations against him.
Busch plans to return to the Sprint Cup Series this weekend in Phoenix, and Busch said, “it means the world to me to be back in the car.”
In a teleconference with reporters, Busch also reiterated “that I never did any of the things I was accused of. It was a complete fabrication.”
NASCAR suspended Busch indefinitely on the eve of the season-opening Daytona 500 after a family court commissioner in Delaware found Busch “more likely than not” committed domestic violence against his former girlfriend Patricia Driscoll. The commissioner’s report was in support of a no-contact order he awarded Driscoll.
Busch subsequently agreed to follow a set of recovery guidelines from NASCAR, which were not disclosed, to be reinstated.
NASCAR lifted the suspension after prosecutors in Delaware said last week that they would not file criminal charges against Busch, 36, a former Cup champion who drives the No. 41 Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing.
Driscoll alleged she was physically abused by Busch during an incident in his motor home at Delaware’s Dover International Speedway on Sept. 26. Busch denied the allegations.
Despite missing the first three races of the season, Busch is eligible over the next 23 regular-season races to qualify for NASCAR’s Chase for the Cup title playoff in the fall, NASCAR said. But he remains under indefinite probation.
“I understand why NASCAR needed to take the action that it did,” Busch said, adding domestic violence “is a very serious issue. It’s a humbling experience, but it’s made me more focused and determined.”
Busch, who had a history of run-ins on and off the track before the Driscoll case, also lauded NASCAR’s recovery program.
“I’m appreciative of the process, of the road to recovery,” he said. “It’s created such a good foundation to utilize moving forward that I wish I would have done it sooner.”
Busch also said NASCAR Chairman Brian France told him to keep racing as he had “but be a different person outside of the car.”
At the same time, “we have made it very clear to Kurt Busch our expectations for him moving forward, which includes participation in a treatment program and full compliance with all judicial requirements as a result of his off-track behavior,” NASCAR executive vice president Steve O’Donnell said in a statement.
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