NASCAR indefinitely suspends Kurt Busch (VIDEO)

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – NASCAR indefinitely suspended Kurt Busch on Friday, a few hours after a Kent County (Del.) Family Court Commissioner concluded that “it is more likely than not’’ that Busch committed an act of domestic abuse against his ex-girlfriend in September.

“Given the serious nature of the findings and conclusions made by the Commissioner of the Family Court of the State of Delaware, NASCAR has indefinitely suspended driver Kurt Busch, effective immediately,” NASCAR’s statement read. “He will not be allowed to race nor participate in any NASCAR activities until further notice.

“Kurt Busch and his Stewart-Haas Racing team are fully aware of our position and why this decision was made. We will continue to respect the process and timetable of the authorities involved.’’

Busch, the 2004 series champion, was found in violation two NASCAR rules:

Section 12.1.a: Actions detrimental to stock car racing.

Section 12.8: Behavior Penalty

NASCAR’s Behavior Penalty states that those in NASCAR have certain responsibilities and obligations. Those include: “Correct and proper conduct, both on and off the race track.” NASCAR also notes in its Rule Book that “a Member’s actions can reflect upon the sport as a whole and on other NASCAR members.”

Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president, said in a brief statement Friday that Busch has the right to appeal the suspension. If Busch does so, O’Donnell said NASCAR would “expedite” the appeal process. That could be completed before Sunday’s Daytona 500.

“NASCAR has made it very clear to the entire membership and the broader industry that any actions of abuse will not be tolerated in the industry,” O’Donnell said. “I want to make it clear that any inference that there’s a culture where tolerance for this type of behavior is patently false.”

Joe Custer, executive vice president for Stewart-Haas Racing, stated: “We understand NASCAR’s position regarding Kurt Busch and accept their decision. We are in the midst of finalizing our plans for the Daytona 500 and we will announce those details as soon as we’re ready.”

NASCAR Chairman Brian France said last month that series officials would react if needed in this matter.

“The only thing we want to do is, and this is important, we’ve got to let the facts come in,’’ France said during the NASCAR media tour. “There would be no reason for me or NASCAR or anybody else to get ahead of those facts given that they may change. Let’s let the facts come in, and if there’s something for us to react to, you can appreciate that we will be very careful and very aware of what the circumstances are.’’

Chevrolet also announced that it has suspended its relationship with Busch indefinitely.

Jim Campbell, Chevrolet vice president of Motorsports and Performance Vehicles, said: “We will continue to monitor the events surrounding Mr. Busch and are prepared to take additional action if necessary.”

Busch’s ex-girlfriend, Patricia Driscoll, sought a protective order, alleging that Busch slammed her head against the wall in his motor home three times last September at Dover International Speedway. That came shortly after the breakup of their four-year relationship. Driscoll had gone to the track to console Busch after a series of text messages led Driscoll to be concerned about Busch.

Commissioner David Jones wrote Friday that “it is more likely than not that on September 26, 2014, (Busch) committed an act of abuse against (Driscoll) by manually strangling (Driscoll) with his left hand on her throat, while placing his right hand against her chin and face, causing her head to forcefully strike the interior wall of (Busch)’s motor home, thereby recklessly causing physical injury to (Driscoll) and recklessly placing (Driscoll) in reasonable apprehension of physical injury.’’

Jones issued a protective order Monday. The order stated that Busch be evaluated “for mental health problems related to anger control and impulse control.’’ Busch must follow any recommendations of a licensed mental health treatment provider for counseling or treatment.

Driscoll issued a statement Friday night:

“For victims of domestic violence there are no “victories.” My only hope is that the pain and trauma I suffered through this process will help other victims find their voice. Unfortunately we live in a culture where stories like mine are often swept under the rug out of fear and with the knowledge that for every person who shows empathy many more will seek to disparage the victim. It is bad enough to endure the actual physical abuse but the verbal attacks that follow when a victim speaks up are sometimes just as painful.

“Today NASCAR took an important step and deserves to be commended.  The next steps are to develop a thorough process and policies that reenforce the organization’s position it took today:  Domestic violence will not be tolerated in NASCAR.”

Dover (Del.) Police investigated the incident and sent its report to the Attorney General’s Office of Delaware in December. The Office has not determined if to seek charges against Busch.

Busch’s career has been littered with incidents on and off the track with competitors and media that have led to NASCAR penalties. NASCAR suspended Busch for one race in 2012 for threatening a reporter after a then-Nationwide Series race at Dover.

In what was called a “mutual agreement” to separate, Busch lost his ride with Team Penske after the 2011 season. NASCAR fined Busch $50,000 for directing profanity toward a reporter and using an obscene gesture during that year’s season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Additionally, Roush Fenway Racing fired Busch in Nov. 2005 after he was cited in an alcohol-related incident in Avondale, Ariz. during the Phoenix International Raceway race weekend.

Chase Elliott, Kyle Larson to pursue $100K bounty in Truck Series

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The $100,000 bounty on Kyle Busch has its first contenders.

Chase Elliott and Kyle Larson each confirmed Thursday evening on Twitter that they’ll take a shot at the bounty placed by Kevin Harvick and Marcus Lemonis last week.

Elliott will compete in the March 14 Truck Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway and the May 30 race at Kansas Speedway with GMS Racing. Larson will compete with GMS Racing in the March 20 event at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Elliott will be sponsored by Hooters for the Atlanta race.

The declarations by the two drivers came the same day that Busch said he didn’t believe any full-time Cup Series drivers would go after the bounty.

Elliott has 12 career Truck Series starts. His last two, at Atlanta and Martinsville in 2017, came with GMS Racing. Elliott won the Martinsville race. Busch was not in that race.

“Once the word got out about the challenge, we were able to put this together with Mike Beam at GMS in just a couple of days,” Elliott said in a press release. “Atlanta is one of my favorite tracks, so I’m really looking forward to getting back into a GMS truck there with Hooters on the truck and make a run for a win.”

Larson has 13 career starts and his last three, including a win at Eldora and top five at Homestead in 2016, came with GMS Racing.

“When I heard about the $100,000 bounty I wanted in!” Larson said in a press release. “I’m thankful for GMS and Chevy giving me this opportunity, Homestead is one of my favorite tracks so looking for to the challenge!”

There’s a potential third bounty hunter waiting in the wings.

Not long after Larson’s announcement, Denny Hamlin, Busch’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, tweeted that he’s acquired the funding to field a ride. There’s just one hangup, and it’s Kyle Busch Motorsports:

The $100,000 bounty against Busch was proposed by Harvick and Lemonis, CEO of Gander RV & Outdoors, last week. It will go to any full-time Cup Series driver who beats Busch in any of his remaining four Truck Series starts this year. Busch has won the last seven Truck Series races he’s entered.

If Elliott or no other Cup driver beats Busch in those four races, the bounty will go to the Bundle of Joy Fund, the organization founded by Kyle and Samantha Busch that helps couples who require fertility treatments to conceive.

“We are blessed with this opportunity. To have an owner that is up for the challenge and a manufacturer that will support the extra effort necessary is really special,” said Mike Beam, President of GMS Racing, in a press release. “It’s great to have these two talented young men back behind the wheel for us and to have the extra attention on the Truck series is great.”

Kyle Busch: $100K Truck Series bounty is a losing proposition

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Kyle Busch doesn’t believe any full-time Cup Series driver will attempt to claim the $100,000 bounty placed on him last week by Kevin Harvick and Marcus Lemonis.

Harvick and Lemonis, the CEO of Truck Series sponsor Gander RV & Outdoors, said they’d award that bounty to any full-time Cup Series driver who is able to beat Busch in any of his four remaining Truck Series starts this year.

Busch, who has won the last seven Truck races he’s entered, sees the challenge as a losing investment, especially if someone attempted it in one of Kyle Busch Motorsports’ Toyotas.

Thursday on the Barstool Sports’ “Rubbin’ is Racing” podcast, Busch said it costs $140,000 to rent one of his Trucks for a race.

“Right off the bat (it’s a losing proposition),” Busch said. “It’s not going to happen. Nobody is going to pay the 140 grand to rent a truck, whether it’s from me or from somebody else. (Show co-host Clint) Bowyer didn’t tell you the fact he can’t even rent a truck from me because I’m a Toyota team and he drives for a Ford team. So he has to go find a Ford truck in order to drive. So there’s those complications that fit into all of this, too.”

Denny Hamlin, Busch’s teammate at Joe Gibbs Racing, expressed his interest in the bounty, as well Richard Childress Racing’s Austin Dillon, who said he was “working on” a deal.

After his win last Friday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Busch’s four remaining Truck Series starts are:

March 14 at Atlanta Motor Speedway

March 20 at Homestead-Miami Speedway

March 27 at Texas Motor Speedway

May 30 at Kansas Speedway.

If no one beats Busch, the bounty will go to the Bundle of Joy Fund, the organization founded by Kyle and Samantha Busch that helps couples who require fertility treatments to conceive.

NASCAR America presents MotorMouths at 5 p.m. ET

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Today’s episode of NASCAR America’s MotorMouths airs from 5-6 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

Marty Snider hosts and is joined by Kyle Petty, Steve Letarte and Nate Ryan.

James Hinchliffe will call into the show to discuss his new role as an analyst for NBC’s coverage of IndyCar, Indy Lights, IMSA and NASCAR.

You can call into the show via 844-NASCAR-NBC or submit your questions/comments via Twitter using #LetMeSayThis.

If you can’t catch today’s show on TV, watch online at http:/nascarstream.nbcsports.com. If you plan to stream the show on your laptop or portable device, be sure to have your username and password from your cable/satellite/telco provider handy so your subscription can be verified.

Once you enter that information, you’ll have access to the stream.

Click here at 5 p.m. ET to watch live via the stream.

Auto Club Speedway’s old surface provides ‘moving target’ for drivers

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Auto Club Speedway has a lot of character.

It’s a character that comes from the 2-mile track’s racing surface being among the oldest on the NASCAR circuit.

The surface hasn’t been repaved since the track first opened in 1997. That’s the same year that the surface for Atlanta Motor Speedway was last resurfaced (a planned repave was put on hold indefinitely in 2017 after outcry from drivers).

In the 23 years since, races at the track in Fontana, California, have turned into producers of multi-groove spectacles (especially on restarts) that come at the cost of high levels of tire wear.

The aged surface provides a “moving target” to drivers throughout the race weekend, according to Tyler Reddick.

“During the start of the weekend, you have to watch for the seams since it’s so slick out there,” the rookie Cup driver said in a media release. “Normally, the Xfinity cars are the first ones on the track, so I’m normally very careful. Now that I’m in the Cup Series, it may be a little different. I think this weekend will be fairly similar to Las Vegas where we started out running wide open, and I’ll have to run like that until the handling starts to go away in our No. 8 I Am Second Chevrolet (and) you have to start lifting. Then it’ll be important to assess why the handling is changing and how to adjust our car correctly to battle that.”

Cup and Xfinity teams only visit Auto Club Speedway once a year and this will be the second year they’ll do so with the high downforce aero package.

Joe Gibbs Racing’s Erik Jones believes Sunday’s Auto Club 400 (3:30 p.m. ET on Fox) will be a “different race” from the one seen last year.

“Going into Fontana last year, no one really knew what we needed car-wise, balance-wise and this year we have a whole notebook to look back on to try to get better,” Jones, who finished 19th in last year’s race, said in a media release.

“I think there will be a lot more lifting, the cars will be faster. Everybody has just gotten their cars better and more efficient and faster on the straightaways and that makes for more lifting in the corners. It will probably be a little different race, but Fontana is always a good show.”

But that show depends on where a driver chooses to run around the track.

Racing along the top of the track compared to running in the bottom lane proves for “two completely different types of racing” according to defending race winner Kyle Busch.

“You can run from the top to the bottom but, when you run the bottom, you really feel like you’re puttering around the racetrack,” Busch said in a media release. “You feel like you aren’t making up any time on the bottom. But when you are running the top groove, you feel like you’re getting the job done. The guys who run the bottom have a little bit more patience and handle it better than the guys who are on the gas on top.”

When it comes to how rough the track is, Matt DiBenedetto cites how bumpy Turns 3 and 4 are, but said in a media release that traversing the “back straightaway is like going over jumps.”

But just like with the old surface at Atlanta Motor Speedway, there are those who never want to see Auto Club’s surface actually improve.

“I did an appearance at Auto Club Speedway not too long ago and I told the track officials, ‘Whatever you do, don’t repave it!'” Austin Dillon said in a media release. “Or, wait to repave it until you can figure out how to make an asphalt that is very similar to what is on the track now.”

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