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.