Congresswoman calls on NASCAR to suspend Kurt Busch


With former Sprint Cup champion Kurt Busch facing allegations of domestic assault, California congresswoman Jackie Speier (Democrat, House of Representatives) has called upon NASCAR to suspend him.

In a letter to NASCAR President Mike Helton and Stewart-Haas Racing co-owners Tony Stewart and Gene Haas, Speier said that she was “disappointed” that neither the sanctioning body nor SHR have taken any actions as of now, and that such decisions were “totally inadequate.”

The full letter can be found here and references several of Busch’s past “anger management issues,” including his blow-up at ESPN reporter Dr. Jerry Punch at the 2011 season finale and his suspension for the June 2012 race at Pocono following a post-race tirade at Dover toward Sporting News reporter Bob Pockrass.

Speier also brings up how NASCAR chose not to suspend Travis Kvapil after he was charged with misdemeanors of false imprisonment and assault in the fall of 2013; this past February, Kvapil pleaded guilty as part of an agreement where the case will be dismissed if he serves two years of probation and does some community service.

The final paragraph has Speier urging Helton, Stewart, and Haas to suspend Busch for this weekend’s Ford Ecoboost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway and “adopt a policy going forward in all domestic violence cases to suspend drivers until criminal proceedings end or there is a clear lack of evidence.”

NASCAR Chairman Brian France addressed the subject during his press conference today at Homestead.

“What’s not lost on us by any stretch is the rightful heightened awareness on domestic abuse and violence, and so you can expect our policies to reflect the understandable awareness that that’s not going to be tolerated,” he said.

“The past of how any league might have handled some of this is one thing. It’s pretty clear when you see what’s happening around the country and in some of the other leagues that our policy will reflect the significance and importance that it should.”

As for Speier’s letter, France said he was not surprised to see members of Congress having “strong views on what what we should and shouldn’t do” considering the heightened awareness of domestic violence in recent times.

However, he feels the sanctioning body needs to let the ongoing investigation play out before it makes a decision to punish him.

“We are watching that case carefully, and they are – it’s under review by law enforcement and others, and they have not made a decision on that regarding Kurt,” he said. “So until they make some judgments on that investigation, it wouldn’t be right of us to just intervene before they’ve even gotten the investigation completed. So that’s our position.

“We’ll respect their process. It’s in their hands.”

Busch has not yet been charged formally with any crime.

In court documents, Busch’s ex-girlfriend, Patricia Driscoll, has stated that on Sept. 26 at Dover International Speedway, Busch verbally abused her and then slammed her head against a wall three times inside his motorhome before she escaped to a nearby bus.

Busch’s attorney has called the allegations a “complete fabrication,” while Haas himself has said he would not pull Busch out of the No. 41 SHR Chevrolet.

Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and Formula One embrace the United States

Verstappen Perez United States
Jared C. Tilton / Getty Images

Last week, Red Bull Racing revealed their new car, the RB19, and a new relationship with US-based Ford Motors in a press event in New York City complete with drivers Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and Team Principle Christian Horner. They are the only Formula 1 team to launch in the United States, but even that small move of the needle reflects a major shift in the attitude of both F1’s management and their teams – and the extent to which the American audience has fully embraced the sport.

“It’s something fantastic and unique, for the sport to be able to break it into the U.S,” Perez told NBC Sports. “The market is huge and it’s a huge opportunity for everyone involved, for the drivers, for the team. It’s always a huge market.”

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Sergio Perez finished fourth in the Unites States Grand Prix, but he was first with the fans.  – Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

In 2023, Formula 1 will race three times in the United States and five times in North America. The Circuit of the Americas will host their 11th consecutive race in October before heading south to Mexico City. Miami returns for a second time in May on a temporary street course around the Hard Rock cafe and the third addition is in downtown Las Vegas in November.

With the Canadian Grand Prix on the schedule for June and the Brazilian Grand Prix in November, American fans are now in the ballpark of Europeans, who have eight events on the continent and one in England.

In 2022, Verstappen won every race in North America. He was kept from sweeping the hemisphere only by George Russell, who won in Brazil. That fact is less remarkable when one considers that Verstappen won 15 times in the season – nearly two-thirds of the races on the schedule.

By the time Formula arrived in Austin for Round 20 of 23, Verstappen had already wrapped up his second consecutive championship.

“Sometimes it can be hard to replicate the season, but I think it’s the same as with the car, right? You always try to improve it,” Verstappen told NBC Sports. “And I always look at the little details that even when you have had a good race, you could have done better. And then of course you also learn from the bad races. So we always try to look for these little improvements and general experience you gain year after year.

“You try to do better, but of course it also depends a lot on the package you have.”

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Max Verstappen United States Grand Prix win was one of 15 for the drivers and 17 for Red Bull.
(Gongora / NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Now Verstappen’s thoughts will inevitably turn to establishing a dynasty – and America will again play a pivotal role.

“I just enjoy what I’m doing,” Verstappen said.  “After the years in Formula One, when you have to be on top of your game and you gain a lot on your experience – in that sense nothing really can get to you anymore. Every year you just try to do the best you can. But a lot depends on the material around you. It’s always a bit of a guess. Start the season as fit as you can be and be well prepared. But if you don’t have the car, you’re not going to win the championship.”

Perez added two wins to Red Bull’s total, at Monaco and the Marina Bay Street course. With two of the US 2023 races on street courses, Perez hopes to close the gap on Verstappen and potentially be his principle rival for the championship.

“The strategy is clear; it is to maximize the potential of the car – and we believe we have a good car, but how good?,” Perez said “We don’t know what the competition is doing. We just give our best in building this car and we hope that it’s good enough to get us to win races.

“I think we have to work together as a team. At the same time. We both want to win the championship. It’s just having good compromise. The competition will be really strong out there, so we really need everything we possibly can get from each other.”

Formula One returns to the United States for Round 6 and the Miami Grand Prix on May 7.