Race Weekend Central

Kurt Busch: The Consequences of Acting Too Soon

Two weeks after a Delaware judge issued a restraining order against Kurt Busch following allegations of domestic abuse towards his former girlfriend, prosecutors in that jurisdiction handed down what was ultimately the final criminal ruling. Citing insufficient evidence, prosecutors declined to file any criminal charges against Busch, effectively ending any chance of a conviction. In other words, there was simply not enough evidence to “meet the burden of establishing beyond a reasonable doubt” that the events as Patricia Driscoll recounted them took place.

It doesn’t mean that nothing happened that night, but it does cast the events in a different light than the family court judge painted them just two weeks ago. The difference is that for the restraining order, the judge only had to weigh the two sides and decide which one was the most likely. There can be plenty of doubt in his mind; he only had to be 51 percent in favor of Driscoll’s story to issue the order. A criminal conviction, on the other hand, means convincing a jury of 12 people that a person is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, meaning that if there is any doubt at all that the accused could have committed the crime in question, their verdict must be not guilty. Prosecutors felt that this case could not be proven beyond that reasonable doubt, and therefore decided not to pursue it further.

The ruling is goid news for Busch and Stewart-Haas Racing, of course, but it does make NASCAR look a little… um, hasty. NASCAR moved to suspend Busch indefinitely as soon as the judge issued his full findings in granting the restraining order, presuming him guilty of something if the judge sided with Driscoll. Busch now has to work through a NASCAR-devised program to be reinstated. The problem is, under the law of the land, he didn’t commit a crime. Busch was, in effect, suspended from doing his job because of the suspicion that he might have committed a crime.

That’s a bit of a PR nightmare, especially considering that Travis Kvapil, who pleaded guilty to essentially the same crime, was never punished by the sanctioning body. So now, there’s a guy who admitted in front of a judge that he committed an act of domestic violence and was allowed to continue on as though nothing happened. And there’s another guy who, despite not being convicted or even charged with a crime, is sitting at home until NASCAR decides he’s paid his penance. That’s just not right.

The best thing NASCAR could do is to reinstate Busch immediately, apologize to him, his team and his fans for jumping to conclusions and let everyone move on. Instead, though, the sanctioning body admits no mistakes, issuing only the following statement via press release:

“NASCAR is aware of the Delaware Department of Justice announcement today regarding driver Kurt Busch. As we disclosed Monday, he has accepted the terms and conditions of a reinstatement program and is actively participating in the program. Kurt Busch’s eligibility for reinstatement will continue to be governed by that program and the NASCAR Rule Book, though the elimination of the possibility of criminal charges certainly removes a significant impediment to his reinstatement.”

That could mean that NASCAR will speed up the process without admitting to being too quick to judgement, or it could still mean Busch will sit out for a while. NASCAR did not disclose what the reinstatement program entails or give a timetable. Fast-tracking Busch back to the track would probably be the second-best option, behind admitting they’re wrong.

But NASCAR isn’t the only hurdle Busch has to clear. Chevrolet also pulled support from the driver following the restraining order, and as a Chevy factory team, effectively backs Stewart-Haas Racing into a corner. Again, if Busch had been charged, tried and convicted, nobody would fault NASCAR or Chevrolet for their actions, but with that not being the case, it’s not so easy.

If Chevy isn’t going to come out and publicly admit they jumped the gun, the best thing for the manufacturer to do here is to quietly let the team know they will back the No. 41 and be done with it.  And perhaps one of those two things will happen in the coming days as the situation sorts itself out.

In the end, NASCAR jumped the gun on Busch’s situation, and because of that, took a credibility hit. The sanctioning body takes another one in standing on their previous decision. Let’s hope that it’s a situation that never rears its ugly head again, but if it does, NASCAR should remember this case, take a deep breath, and let the justice system do its job. There’s plenty of time for suspensions and other penalties when that happens.

About the author

Amy is an 20-year veteran NASCAR writer and a six-time National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) writing award winner, including first place awards for both columns and race coverage. As well as serving as Photo Editor, Amy writes The Big 6 (Mondays) after every NASCAR Cup Series race. She can also be found working on her bi-weekly columns Holding A Pretty Wheel (Tuesdays) and Only Yesterday (Wednesdays). A New Hampshire native whose heart is in North Carolina, Amy’s work credits have extended everywhere from driver Kenny Wallace’s website to Athlon Sports. She can also be heard weekly as a panelist on the Hard Left Turn podcast that can be found on AccessWDUN.com's Around the Track page.

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Amy has just hit the proverbial tenpenny nail on the head and drove it all the way in with one swing. NASCAR and Chevy should both come out immediately with apologies to Kurt and allow him to resume his career pronto!

S Brinson

Kurt’s suspension was not about a court decision, but actions detrimental to stock car racing. A lifetime achievement award on his past interaction with NASCAR and media. You don’t continue to embarrass NASCAR without repercussions. It has been that way since 1948.

William J. Breyvogel

I think the truth is being overlooked…Kurt was asleep in his motorhome and had his privacy interrupted…i am tired of hearing about Driscoll and NASCAR and how important they are to everyone. NASCAR should take a look in the mirror and see how many times they have embarrassed themselves, as for Driscoll, nothing short of out of site out of mind will do just fine!!!!#isupportkurtbusch


Guilty until proven innocent these days. I’ll never buy another Chevy after what they’ve done to Kurt.


I’m going to defend NASCAR only in the sense that when the NFL was pilloried after the Ray Rice tape came out. NASCAR had to do something after the Family Court decision. They were already being dragged through the mud by some for Kvapil. I think they should give Kurt an immediate reinstatement, conditional on him completing the program they laid out.

Tom B

Everyone has missed the point of this story from the very beginning. Kurt is sitting in his motor home. Pam, ex-girlfriend comes in with verbal abuse. Kurt stops her from verbally abusing him. Kurt is accused of domestic violence. So if anybody comes into your home and gets into your face you better not do anything or you will face domestic violence charges and be locked out of you job.

Robert Eastman

Thank you Amy for supporting Kurt Busch. Though not a fan of Kurt’s lack of maturity, I do appreciate his absolute passion, talent and drive to excel! Obviously ‘his Passion’ gets him in trouble!
As a lady who empathizes with the very real problem of ‘spousal abuse,’ your willingness to go beyond emotional hysteria and political correctness “IS Refreshing!” It’s too bad that NASCAR doesn’t have the courage to do the same!
I believe the ‘Family Court Commissioner’ who ruled (“as probable” /not fact) in Ms. Driscoll’s favor, did so out of fear because he knows who she really IS! Anyone who posts on Youtube ‘a Personal BIO’ that claims “she will Destroy Anyone that crosses her” and features the fact of her expertise with automatic firearms/weapons IS NOT someone to mess with!
It’s a FACT that her Father and Grandfather are/were U.S. Government Enforcers. Why is it hard to believe that she can also be ‘a third generation U.S. Government Enforcer’ especially considering the FACT that her father taught her as a child how to use “the Tools of the Trade!” Who better to carry on the tradition of ‘the Family Craft’ than someone who’s been indoctrinated from early childhood about “the Honor of the Work!”

It’s a FACT that Ms. Driscoll sent an email to SHR during ‘the Tony Stewart situation’… claiming that “She IS ‘the Go-to Fixer-Gal’ when U.S. Congressmen get into ‘a Career-Crisis/Scandal!” The FACT that she DID NOT deny Under Oath the accusations that she told Mr. Busch and others that… “She is a U.S. Government Assassin”… IS meaningful and not a joke! The FACT that she can get on ‘the most popular TV Morning Shows’ on short notice is an indication of how Powerful She Really IS!

NASCAR’s ‘knee-jerk reaction’ was based on “Real Fear of PC backlash” as was Chevrolet’s, which has even more to lose in the Arena of Public Opinion! It’s a shame that powerful people can and do destroy those who offend them. It’s a valuable lesson to all of us to be very careful about our choice of friends!
Mr. Busch would have been much better off, both financially and career-wise, to have written Ms. Driscoll ‘an Extortion Check for a Million Dollars’ to just go away! Possibly he could have ‘written it off’ as a “Life Education Consulting Fee!”


Before I re-post what I have written other sports journalist so they get the “whole” picture, I need to set the table so to speak.

Am not a Kurt Busch fan and put “actual” physical domestic abusers in the same category as child abusers.

Mr Jones is NOT a judge. DO NOT give him the respect he has not earned. Evey other sports radio personality and print media is calling him a JUDGE. DUMB !!!!

I am a retired social security disability adjudicator(like a judge but with NO law degree) certified by the federal government to determine if an adult is physically OR mentally disabled. Went through (1) year of medical training (52 weeks/8 hrs a day equivalent to (2) years of pre-med.

Read very carefully the feelings of a Ms Dana Conner, a LAW professor of 20+ years and the leading domestic abuse EXPERT in the State of Delaware where you could indict a ham sandwhich of domestic abuse.

I also encourage you to go to tacticalranch.com, one of the leading personal/corporate defense training courses in the country based in EL PASO, TEXAS. Do WE know of anyone who is from EL PASO, TEXAS, owns a corporation who does Defense contracting and would want to receive training for themselves and corporate leadership to protect them selves from people whose equipment they sell attempts to prevent their entry in to the USA or their “products”. You can say it aloud, she can’t hurt you. This corporation also does “play acting” scenarios where you can play a Spec Ops operator shooting up the bad guys. Sound familiar ?

It is my “opinion” based on no medical evidence whatsoever that a certain someone is a wannabe. I base that on my review of over 6,000 medical records, (28) years in the NAVY, sometimes working on classified equipment and having read over 150 fiction/non fiction books on spies, espionage, tradecraft, tactical training, yada, yada yada and listening to every other bar owner near a military base claim to be a former Navy SEAL, Ranger, ARMY Spec Ops, Marine Force Recon, etc.

In my “opinion”, a certain someone being vertically challenged has an inferiority complex that has manifested itself into a personna that craves attention.

Wet ops (aka trained assassins) personnel would NEVER let you know who they are and RARELY develop long term personal relations because of what they do.

All that being said, the real VICTIM in this Houston, a young boy who finally found an adult figure who could help him grow up to be a young man and is now crushed because “someone” said “I WLL DESTROY HIM” because they couldn’t deal with not being the center of attention any more.

Again, read Ms Conners statements and write also other “journalists” to pass on what she says.

By Jerry Jordan

Some have speculated that Busch must be guilty of abusing his ex-girlfriend, Patricia Driscoll, based on his fiery temper – a well-known phenomenon around the racetrack. But others don’t believe there should be a rush to judgment, especially by NASCAR, which could end the 36-year-old’s career if they pull him out of the racecar. The mere fact that a civil finding of abuse was issued does not indicate a criminal charge will follow, much less be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, said Professor Dana Harrington Conner, a veteran Delaware attorney specializing in domestic abuse, who spoke with Kickin’ the Tires.

“There is a burden of proof, which is the standard under evidence law, and here, for a civil case of this nature for a civil protective order the burden of proof is, by a preponderance of the evidence, which means, it’s more likely than not that what the individual is alleging is true,” said Conner. “It is almost like a tipping of the scales. The burden is reduced from what a prosecutor has to prove in court. A prosecutor would have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt. That the trier of facts, a jury, in a criminal case has no doubt that the defendant is guilty. So, it is a much higher standard in a criminal case to prove this same act.

“That is solely up to the prosecutor’s office as to whether they will charge and, or pursue the charges. It has certainly been my experience that many of the cases we handle civilly, where our client is seeking a protective order, there may not ever be a call to the police.”

Conner is known as an expert in cases of what she calls, “intimate partner violence” rather than using the term domestic violence. She once served as the domestic violence Attorney and the managing attorney for the Delaware Volunteer Legal Service, as well as, becoming a member of the Delaware Domestic Violence Coordinating Council. She is also a professor of law at the Widener School of Law.

She said in 1994, Delaware became the final state in the nation to implement orders of protection to combat domestic violence but it also has the one of the most loosely interpreted definitions of what constitutes abuse.

“Our statute is very broad in how it defines domestic violence for the purpose of gaining a civil protective order,” Conner said. “It could be engaging in a course of conduct that an individual finds alarming or distracting or it could be any other conduct that a person finds alarming or distracting, so that is really broad. And, all you have to prove is one act.”

Conner would not speak directly to the case between Busch and Driscoll; instead making broad statements overall about what an order of protection actually does and what its intent is. She said the idea is to protect an alleged victim and not to punish someone accused of harming them but rather to keep them separated. In doing so, and in removing weapons from the equations, the order of protection is not punitive.

Another aspect of Delaware’s law on protection of abuse orders, is that Dirscoll can violate the order and not face any consequences but if Busch does not heed the ruling, he could face a year in jail and a monetary fine.

“The thing about a civil protective order is that it is not, by its own nature, intended to hold the perpetrator accountable,” Conner said. “It is specifically designed to provide protection. To get this protective order does not in any way cause the incarceration of the perpetrator or brought before the criminal justice system. It is solely protective in nature.

“It seems to me that this is pretty limited in relief. A case where the only thing that is ordered is no contact, stay away, no abuse and a limited firearms turnover for a year, or two, and an evaluation; that is pretty limited compared to most of the cases that go before the court.”

On Thursday, Busch’s legal team filed their motion to appeal Jones’ ruling. Additionally, they requested Jones re-open the case to hear from additional witnesses and withhold releasing his opinion, formally known as, a supplemental civil disposition. Whether Jones will re-open the case for additional witness testimony and the presentation of new evidence is unknown but he did release his opinion Friday afternoon.

“It is a review of commissioner’s decision, not an appeal,” Conner said. “A family court judge would then review that and then if one of the parties was not satisfied with the judge’s determination, then it would be a direct appeal to the family courts. So, there is a second level. If they affirm the commissioner’s decision and the defendant was not happy with that then they could appeal to the Supreme Court of Delaware.”

Much of the information in the written opinion was unremarkable but Jones’ view of the circumstances and why he ruled the way he did raised questions about both sides of the case, including by NASCAR, which used it as a factor in suspending Busch. Specifically, Jones wrote that he found Busch to be untruthful and trying to save his racing career but he believed Driscoll’s version of the events despite ruling that she committed perjury on the stand.

The claim of perjury was also made by Busch’s attorneys in their Thursday filing. As for Jones’ finding, he wrote that Driscoll was untruthful when she alleged that a Motor Racing Outreach minister was bribed to provide his testimony in the civil proceeding in January.

The most troubling issue regarding Petitioner’s (Driscoll) credibility raised by Respondent (Busch) involves the allegation that the Petitioner testified falsely that Nick Terry told her in a telephone call that Respondent’s counsel had offered him financial assistance in an effort to secure his testimony, which she characterized as an attempt to bribe Mr. Terry,” states Jones’ opinion. “The Court finds that counsel for Respondent did not threaten or attempt to bribe Mr. Terry, or offer financial assistance to him in an effort to secure his testimony. The Court will disregard Petitioner’s false testimony regarding her conversation with Mr. Terry. Although finding that a witness, and especially a complaining witness, had given false testimony is always of concern to the court, the Court does not find that in this case Petitioner’s false testimony, which is the Court was obliged to disregard in any event as it was not related to any material issue for decision by the Court, rises to the level where the balance of her testimony cannot be trusted and must be stricken, providing false testimony to the court. Instead, his opinion was based on the fact that Busch has as the Court finds that the balance of her trial testimony is sufficiently corroborated by other credible evidence.”

While Driscoll was found to have given false testimony, Jones made no such finding of Busch the most to lose – his racing career – should he be found to have committed an act of domestic abuse.

“Throughout the course of the proceedings in this matter, Respondent has asserted through his counsel that the allegations of domestic violence against Respondent have the potential to ruin his public image and irreparably damage or destroy his racing career,” Jones wrote. “The corollary to this assertion is, of course, that because Respondent has so much to lose if found to have committed an act of domestic violence, he has a powerful incentive to do whatever it takes to avoid a finding of abuse, including providing false testimony.”

Jones’ ruling requires Busch to stay 100 yards away from Driscoll, except at NASCAR events where their paths may cross because of his duties in the sport. He also must undergo a psychiatric evaluation and surrender any firearms he owns to authorities in his local jurisdiction.

Conner said it’s common for society to not believe victims of domestic abuse because their stories often seem too incredible for reality. However, she has seen evidence that even some of the most outlandish claims turned out to be true. She also acknowledged that because many abuse situations occur without witnesses or behind closed doors, that evidence of is often difficult to come by, which is one of the reasons why protection from abuse orders are preventive rather than punitive.

“I think you make a good point because I suppose that if the system starts punishing individuals, it detracts from the overall purpose of the civil system, which is to put in place protections to provide this lower standard of proof, this promise of protection with ancillary relief of a security measure and not to be punitive in nature,” Conner said. “So, in that respect, I agree that, if our purpose is to cure and to protect then we should focus on that and not focus on punishment, as opposed to allowing the criminal justice system to deal with that particular issue.”

Interestingly, fans in the NASCAR garage immediately after learning of Busch’s suspension made statements that he had been “found guilty of assaulting his wife.” The fans were adamant they were correct until being told the case was only civil in nature and, at this point, no criminal charges had even been filed against him. They were also unaware that Driscoll entered Busch’s motor coach illegally on September 26 when she claims the abuse took place.

Still, some fans had already made up their minds and vandalized Busch’s garage stall with a Sharpie – one likening him to NFL star “Ray Rice” and another describing Busch as a “woman beater.” To the contrary, on social media, Busch was the overwhelming recipient of support from fans.
Since she first went to police – six weeks after the alleged abuse supposedly occurred – a lot of information has been brought out through the courts and independent investigations. In court, Driscoll admitted she went – uninvited – into Busch’s motor coach on September 26 using a code she learned when the two were dating. Busch, who was asleep inside, woke up and told her repeatedly that she needed to leave – a fact she did not dispute in court.

According to Delaware law, it is a crime to enter someone’s property without permission or refuses to leave when asked. The charge would be criminal trespassing; however, there has not been a charge levied against Driscoll at this time.

“A person is guilty of criminal trespass in the first degree when the person knowingly enters or remains unlawfully in a dwelling or building used to shelter, house, milk, raise, feed, breed, study or exhibit animals,” states Delaware Code Title 11, Chapter 5; Section 823-Criminal trespass in the first degree; class A misdemeanor. “Criminal trespass in the first degree is a class A misdemeanor.”

Delaware law states Busch has three years to file charges against Driscoll for criminal trespass.

Additionally, based on further review of Delaware law, Busch was entitled to use force to make Driscoll leave his motor coach. After asking her to leave four times, according to his testimony in court, she still refused to go. It was at that point, Busch said he cupped her face in his hands, looked her in the eyes and said, “You need to leave.” He said it was possible that when he tilted her head back that she could have bumped against the wall in the bedroom of his motor coach.

“(a)The use of force upon or toward the person of another is justifiable when the defendant believes that such force is immediately necessary: (1) To prevent the commission of criminal trespass or burglary in a building or upon real property in the defendant’s possession or in the possession of another person for whose protection the defendant acts,” states Delaware Code – Section 466: Justification – Use of Force for the Protection of Property. “(b)The defendant may in the circumstances named in subsection (a) of this section use such force as the defendant believes is necessary to protect the threatened property, provided that the defendant first requests the person against whom force is used to desist from interference with the property.”

Biff Baynehouse

A fascinating compilation of data & commentary Navy. Thank you very much.


Dispite all the talk about Nascar, they aren’t the key to Busch’s reinstatement. Rather it is GM as represented by their Chevrolet Division. It is GM who has been the “chief enabler” for Nascar for almost 30 years now. It is GM that spends significant amounts of money with Nascar, SHR, and of course Busch. As of yet they have not lifted their suspension of Busch. And until they do, certainly SHR will not put him back in a race car, whether Nascar allows it or not.
Of course I could be wrong, but we shall see.

Biff Baynehouse

Knee-jerk? Really? Surprising to see such an opinionated headline. Imo, nothing knee-jerk about it, since this guy has been giving this organization PR migraines for over a decade. Wiki dedicated an entire section listing all the controversies this man as generated and it’s huge!. Yet, I marginally sympathize on this, & ultimately believe that he was railroaded this time. But I realize he is not shafted by Nascar or Chevy, but by a villainous gold digger that seemingly contrived this entire melodrama before she ever (illegally) set foot in his bus that night in Dover. But none of that matters in the “court of public opinion”,, which is what the masses fail to recognize. Nascar’s position in all of this is to protect it’s PR image & its public interests, regardless of how any of the criminal, civil & family court aspects play out. And that is true of ANY corporation or employer in the USA, or world for that matter, who’s manicured PR profile encounters something as potentially cancerous as DV. Imo, it just so happens Nascaar’s massive fans base is oblivious to those finer facts of corporate life & employment, and can not bring themselves to fact this simple fact of life. Imo, shameful, but not surprising from the SHR/Nascar crowd! Imo, Nascar owns KuBu nothing! And, with the epic proportions of his punitive history with Nascar, no one should know that better than KuBu! Having said all that, I would like to say I hope KuBu is reinstated promptly, but that would be a half truth. I would like to see better ethics from the drivers & crews, namely the SHR team. I would like to see everyone, namely former & present champions, who display deplorable behavior, like back-pusher Kevin, & back up & park my rear end on a parked car after the race on pit road Tony, more strictly regulated & penalized for unsporting & ethically bankrupt behavior. So I am NOT eager to deal with KuBu’s next chapter. In my heart of hearts, I do not see why Nascar should be motivated to reinstate problematic & ungrateful individuals (like Kubu) when they have such potential greatness (like Chase Elliot, Ryan Blaney, etc. etc. etc.) on the immediate horizon. So, with even the slightest issue in complying with the terms of his reinstatement, I could easily see Nascar reneging on their reinstatement terms & being perfectly content without KuBu. Refardless, I wish him no ill & hope he see’s his way, where ever that might be, more clearly in the future.

Biff Baynehouse

*FACE this simple fact of life… Sheesh, simple for me to say, lol.


I’m going to do what my husband suggested that I and everyone who has bought and stood behind GM products for years should do – contact them to immediately return their backing to SHR for Kurt. I’ll also be contacting Nascar, but I won’t hold my breath. They probably won’t act unless GM/Chevrolet does.

Great and gutsy article, Amy – hope you haven’t raised the wrath of Nascar. Also appreciated the excellent info provided by NavyBlue.

Let’s all make our feelings known to GM/Chevrolet and Nascar – maybe they will (for once) listen to the fans!


I have been a GM owner all my life. I have been a Nascar fan all my life. Not apologizing and reinstating him before vegas is the last straw. I cannot stand the liberal pansies Nascar has become. Funny their corporate decisions continue to dwindle their original/loyal fanbase – all one has to do is look at the empty seats in the stands. I’ll have to find other things to do on my weekends – and it looks as if I’ll have to become a Ford owner.

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