Former champion Kurt Busch has begun the process for reinstatement, NASCAR Talk has learned.
Busch, indefinitely suspended Feb. 20, has signed NASCAR’s terms and conditions for consideration of reinstatement, NASCAR Integrated Marketing Communications vice president David Higdon told NASCAR Talk Monday morning. Busch signed the conditions at the end of last week.
NASCAR indefinitely suspended Busch shortly after a Kent County (Del.) Family Court Commissioner concluded that “it is more likely than not” that Busch committed an act of domestic violence against his ex-girlfriend in September. The Commissioner’s comments came in explaining his decision to grant a protective order against Busch.
Higdon said there is no timetable for Busch to complete his requirements for consideration to be reinstated. Until Busch does so, he’s barred from all NASCAR activity. Regan Smith has driven Busch’s Sprint Cup car the opening two races of the season. Stewart-Haas Racing announced that Smith would drive the No. 41 car this weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Joe Custer, executive vice president at Stewart-Haas Racing, issued a statement Monday in support of Busch’s decision to follow NASCAR’s guidelines toward reinstatement.
“We understand Kurt Busch has begun the process for reinstatement as a NASCAR member,” Custer said. “NASCAR has laid out its expectations for Kurt, and while there is no timetable to meet those expectations, Kurt’s willingness to embrace the conditions set forth by NASCAR is a positive step that we support.”
Higdon said NASCAR created a path to reinstatement for Busch as it has done in other cases where competitors were suspended, such as substance abuse violations.
“The outside experts, one of the things they had advised us from the beginning was no matter what actions we take … that it was very, very important for us to provide a road back,’’ said Higdon, who did not reveal the specific terms Busch must meet. “For those who are experts in this field, specifically in domestic violence, that is critical. We did follow that advice. We’re pleased that he has indicated he will begin the program that we have laid out for him.’’
Higdon said NASCAR relies on a collaborative process to create such guidelines.
“There’s a team in place here, several members of our executive team who work on what we think our expectations are, and then we go outside to experts in the particular area,’’ he said. “ We get recommendations on people who should be assigned to work with us on it. Then we provide that information to the driver and hope and expect that they will abide by those rules.’’
Higdon said Busch will work with an expert assigned to him, and that expert will provide an assessment to NASCAR.
Busch, the 2004 series champion, indefinitely was suspended after he 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.”