NASCAR Should Move Quickly on Kurt Busch Reinstatement

Just when you think things can’t get more interesting with the start of the 2015 NASCAR season, they keep doing just that. And once again, it’s a story involving Kurt Busch. He sure has been a popular topic of conversation for a guy who has yet to complete a lap in a NASCAR race in 2015.

Thursday morning, the Delaware Attorney General decided not to pursue criminal charges against Kurt Busch stemming from an alleged incident that happened between Busch and his then-girlfriend Patricia Driscoll.

“After a thorough consideration of all of the available information about the case, it is determined that the admissible evidence and available witnesses would likely be insufficient to meet the burden of establishing beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Busch committed a crime during the Sept. 26 incident. Likelihood of meeting that high burden of proof is the standard for prosecutors in bringing a case. For this reason, the Department of Justice will not pursue criminal charges in this case.”

– Delaware Attorney General spokesman Carl Kanefsky

With the Attorney General not pursuing charges, the next step was to see how NASCAR would react to the news. The real question was if they would act as swiftly in reinstating Busch as they did when they suspended Busch just two weeks ago.

The answer was a resounding no.

NASCAR has always held the right to be judge, jury and executioner when it comes to handing out punishments in the series and that will continue in this instance as well. Late Thursday, NASCAR released a statement regarding the decision of the Attorney General not to file charges and what it meant for Busch as far as reinstatement.

“NASCAR is aware of the Delaware Department of Justice announcement today regarding driver Kurt Busch. As we disclosed Monday, he has accepted the terms and conditions of a reinstatement program and is actively participating in the program. Kurt Busch’s eligibility for reinstatement will continue to be governed by that program and the NASCAR Rule Book, though the elimination of the possibility of criminal charges certainly removes a significant impediment to his reinstatement.”

Busch was suspended by NASCAR indefinitely on February 20th, after the Kent County (Delaware) Family Court commissioner released a finding that shows he believed that Busch did indeed commit an act of domestic abuse against Driscoll. This, along with the court’s issuing of a protective order against Busch, was enough evidence for NASCAR at the time to step in and act.

At the time, it was the right decision for NASCAR.

NASCAR acted somewhat quickly when originally looking into the possibility of reinstatement, as Busch agreed to the terms and conditions that would lead him back to racing just a week after the suspension was announced. The terms of the agreement were kept confidential and there was no set timetable in which the terms would begin being executed, but one would think that Thursday’s ruling might expedite the process and get Busch back behind the wheel sooner rather than later.

At this time, that would be the right decision for NASCAR.

You see, it is completely possible that NASCAR made the right move in suspending Busch in the first place and could also be the right move to reinstate him sooner rather than later.

With Busch not being charged with a crime, NASCAR should find it difficult to make their initial suspension stand. While the protective order was filed, that doesn’t supersede the decision made by the Attorney General to not file charges. The protective order will still be in place, meaning Busch cannot contact Driscoll or be within 100 yards of her and he must maintain a maximum practicable distance from her at the race track should she happen to be there.

What the protective order shouldn’t do is keep Kurt Busch from being able to race.  The two races that Busch missed should be enough, considering that there aren’t any charges being filed.

At the time of the suspension, NASCAR used the information that was available in making the determination. And the information to that point was enough for them to believe a suspension was warranted. Now there is new information in the form of no charges being filed. NASCAR went with what the Kent County (Delaware) Family Court commissioner released when suspending Busch and now they need to use the decision of the Delaware Attorney General to not file charges as a reason to begin the reinstatement process.

That process in and of itself should be a quick one, seeing as how charges weren’t filed. If I had to take a guess, that’s why the details of the agreement were not made public. I would assume there were different levels based on what the court decided. Should there be no charges filed, the reinstatement would be easier, but had there been charges filed it would have been a longer and more drawn out process. NASCAR almost said as much at the end of the statement.

Now that the real courts have made their decision, it is up to the court of NASCAR to put on its robe, grab the gavel and make a ruling. They got the first sentence correct. Now will they do the same with the follow-up sentence?

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