BREAKING NEWS: Panel denies Kurt Busch appeal

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – A three-member panel denied Kurt Busch’s appeal Saturday, leaving his NASCAR suspension intact.

The hearing lasted about three hours at NASCAR’s headquarters. Busch did not speak to reporters. He slipped into a rear passenger door of an SUV, which squealed its tires as reporters approached.

“We are very disappointed that our appeal was rejected by NASCAR’s appeal panel,” Busch’s attorney, Rusty Hardin, said in a statement. “We are re-appealing immediately, per the proscribed process. We have significant and strong evidence that contradicts the (Delaware Family Court) Commissioner’s conclusions. In the end, we are confident that Kurt will be vindicated and he will be back racing. Until then, we will continue to fight on his behalf by ensuring that the entire truth is known.”

Busch will appeal to Bryan Moss, National Motorsports Final Appeals Officer. This will the first hearing for Moss, former vice chairman and president of Gulfstream Aerospace. His decision is final. The hearing will begin at 7:30 pm ET.

The National Motorsports Appeals Panel that heard Saturday afternoon’s case featured former NASCAR executive Paul Brooks, former driver Lyn St. James, and Greenville-Pickens (S.C.) Speedway owner Kevin Whitaker.

NASCAR was represented in Saturday’s hearing by Jim Cassidy, senior vice president of racing operations. Busch presented his position to the panel.

NASCAR indefinitely suspended 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.

NASCAR ruled Busch was in violation of:

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

Section 12.8: Behavior Penalty

The 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.”

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.

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.’’

Regan Smith will drive Busch’s car in Sunday’s Daytona 500. He’ll start at the rear because of the driver change. Stewart-Haas Racing has not made an announcement on who will drive the car after this weekend.