A question many fans had after the Delaware Department of Justice declined to seek charges Thursday against Kurt Busch was why the former champion remained indefinitely suspended by NASCAR.
David Higdon, NASCAR vice president of Integrated Marketing Communications, appeared on Friday’s edition of “The Morning Drive” on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio to answer that and other questions about the matter.
Here’s what he said:
– Why does Busch remains suspended?
Higdon: “Our actions were based on what we heard from the Commissioner in the family court of the state of Delaware. At the time, we knew there was a chance that the Attorney General could go one way or the other. Our terms and conditions made it very clear that he needed to understand that additional findings in criminal court may affect his eligibility for reinstatement.
“As the Department of Justice was very clear in their statement, they determined that admissible evidence and available witnesses would likely be inefficient to meet the burden of establishing beyond a reasonable doubt that he committed a crime. They are very clear on that, just as the Commissioner in the family court was very clear that they were satisfied with the evidence that was presented at the trial that there was a case here.’’
– Why was Busch suspended based off the decision in the Family Court?
Higdon: “We were called to task for waiting like we did. We utilized the patience that was necessary to gather the appropriate information. Then, unfortunately, the timing hit us during the Daytona 500 where Kurt received a court order from the family court of the state of Delaware with the (protective order for his ex-girlfriend) that, as you know, was a 25-page document, that we simply couldn’t ignore. It was a very clear case made by that court. We had to make a decision. It was unanimous among those involved in that decision.’’
– In Jan. 2014, Travis Kvapil was placed on two years probation and must perform community service as part of a deferred prosecution agreement in his domestic assault case, but he was not penalized by NASCAR. Why is Busch penalized and Kvapil not?
Higdon: “We learned a lot. I think (NASCAR Chairman) Brian France has been very clear. If we had to do that over again, we probably would have done it differently. There’s no doubt that our knowledge and experience in this case with domestic violence and what we’ve seen in the world at large has had an impact. We said moving forward that the standard was going to be higher. We watched the NFL. We began actually talking to experts in that area when the NFL was going through that. We proactively made sure that we understood the issue. We learned about it long before we actually had the situation with Kurt Busch. We had already begun down the path to if we have a situation related to domestic violence we would definitely react differently than with Travis Kvapil.’’
– Did Kurt Busch’s history of past NASCAR violations play a role in his suspension?
Higdon: “We will look at every situation and take what the experts are telling us. When you have a legitimate court in Delaware making a statement like they did, I think it would have been ridiculous for us to not act in that case. We had been very patient over three months. We were being dragged through lot of mud during that period, but we also felt that it was only fair to the driver that the facts come through. When they ultimately did come though this court in Delaware, we had to act. At the same time, the impact of yesterday certainly will factor in since the elimination of the possibility of criminal charges certainly is something that is removing a significant impediment to his reinstatement.’’