Kurt Busch will return to competition this weekend at PIR.
Kurt Busch will return to competition at Phoenix International Raceway this weekend.
Busch, who has served a suspension from the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series since Feb. 20, will rejoin the No. 41 Stewart-Haas Racing team, effective immediately. He has also been granted a waiver, remaining he remains eligible for the Chase should he meet the qualifications.
"As we stated last week, the elimination of the possibility of criminal charges removed a significant impediment to Kurt Busch’s return to full status as a NASCAR member,” said Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer. “We therefore have decided to move him to indefinite probation and waive the Chase requirement. He has fully complied with our reinstatement program during his suspension and the health care expert who conducted his evaluation recommended his immediate return."
“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.”
The 2004 Cup champion was suspended on the Friday before the season-opening Daytona 500 after a Delaware Family Court issued protective order against the driver following allegations of domestic abuse by former girlfriend Patricia Driscoll, who alleged the incident took place Sept. 26 in Busch's motor home at Dover International Speedway.
In levying the suspension, NASCAR cited Section 12.1.a: Actions detrimental to stock car racing, and Section 12.8, a behavioral penalty.
Busch, 36, who has proclaimed his innocence throughout the ordeal, appealed the suspension to the National Motorsports Appeals Panel and subsequently to the Final Appeals Officer but was unsuccessful in both instances.
Nevertheless, Busch agreed to NASCAR’s Road to Reinstatement program last month and has satisfied the sanctioning body’s requirements.
On Thursday, the Delaware Department of Justice concluded that criminal charges would not be brought against the driver after it was “ determined that the admissible evidence and available witnesses would likely be insufficient to meet the burden of establishing beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Busch committed a crime during the September 26th incident.”
Stewart-Haas Racing weighs in
“We appreciate the steps Kurt Busch has made while following NASCAR’s process for reinstatement. He has taken this path seriously, which allowed him to return to our race team. With his reinstatement and the conclusion by the Delaware Attorney General to not file charges, our focus is on the future,” Joe Custer, executive vice president of Stewart-Haas Racing said in a release on Wednesday.
Busch has 25 career wins, including one victory (2005) at Phoenix. In 24 starts on the one-mile track, Busch has five top fives and 13 top-10 finishes. Busch experienced an engine failure in this event last March, but he finished seventh under the direction of current crew chief Tony Gibson in the November Chase race at PIR.
While Busch was suspended from competition for the last three races, Regan Smith filled in admirably with a 16.3 average finish.