Questions and answers about NASCAR’s appeal process

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Kurt Busch will appeal his NASCAR suspension Saturday.

NASCAR indefinitely suspended Busch on Friday 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 is not allowed to participate in any NASCAR activity while under suspension. His Stewart-Haas Racing team announced Friday night that Regan Smith would be the team’s interim driver.

What happens with today’s appeal? Who is involved? What if Busch loses?

Here are answers to those questions and more about NASCAR’s appeal process.

What does it cost to file an appeal?

There is a $500 non-refundable appeal filing fee.

Who hears the appeal?

A three-member panel is selected from a list of 33. Among those eligible to be on a panel are former drivers Johnny Benson, Janet Guthrie and Lake Speed, along with former crew chief Buddy Parrott and former owners Robert Yates and Bud Moore. There also are track operators and others who have been in the motorsports industry for years. The Appeals Administrator will select the panel and can do so based on availability, background, professional experience and knowledge. The Appeals Administer is George Silberman, NASCAR vice president for the Regional and Touring Series.

What happens in the hearing?

Panel members have the sole authority to define the scope of the relevant testimony – what is admissible and what is not. Panel members can ask questions from any parties or witnesses during the hearing.

What kind of stipulations are there?

Legal counsel is not permitted to be present during any testimony.

 Who goes first in the hearing?

NASCAR since it has the burden of proving its case. The appellant (Busch) then follows. NASCAR and the appelant are permitted alternating opportunities of rebuttal, subject to the panel’s discretion.

What happens once both sides have been heard?

The panel first must decide if NASCAR has shown that there is a violation of the NASCAR Rule Book. If so, the panel then reviews the penalty issued and may uphold it, increase it, decrease it or adjust it as it sees fit.

What makes a binding decision?

At least a majority of the three-member panel must agree on the decision.

What if the decision goes against NASCAR?

NASCAR is not permitted to appeal the panel’s decision. The case ends.

What if the Appeals Panels goes against the appellant?

They may appeal to the National Motorsports Final Appeals Officer. That is Bryan Moss. His decision is final.

What happens with that hearing?

The burden shifts to the appellant (Busch) to show that the Appeals Panel ruled contrary to NASCAR’s rules. The Final Appeals Officer has the sole authority to define the scope of the relevant testimony – what is admissible and what is not. He can ask questions from any parties or witnesses during the hearing. Legal counsel is not permitted during any testimony.

What an appellant must argue?

They must prove that either the violation did not occur, the penalty assessed was not within the scope of the rules or that they were denied appellate rights.

Who goes first in this hearing?

The appellant (Busch) since the burden has shifted to proving his case. NASCAR follows by presenting its evidence. Both sides are permitted alternating opportunities for rebuttal.