Kurt Busch greeted warmly in NASCAR Sprint Cup garage in return from suspension

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AVONDALE, Ariz. – Kurt Busch said it felt good to be back in a car Friday after missing the past three Sprint Cup races because of a NASCAR suspension.

Busch was 17th quick in Friday’s practice session at Phoenix International Raceway – the first time he has been in a Sprint Cup car since February.

NASCAR suspended Busch two days before the Daytona 500 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. The Delaware Department of Justice did not seek criminal charges against Busch. That proved significant, NASCAR stated, in lifting Busch’s suspension.

Busch was greeted warmly in the garage Friday.

“It was good just to get back in the seat and shake hands with all the guys,’’ Busch said. “Having the support of Stewart-Haas, it’s been like family. Then to see the other crew members that I know – and some that I don’t know – shake my hand and say ‘welcome back.’ It feels good.

“It’s been pretty cool the way the garage feels like a fraternity.  It’s nice to see good friends.”

Busch’s focus quickly turned to his car.

“For me to just get some laps in today, in race trim the car seems fast,’’ he said. “(Qualifying setup), it’s a different game this year. That is why we are (17th). I have to learn the car and the feel, because it looks like the lap times are so tight.”