You know what? I actually believed NASCAR driver Kurt Busch had changed.
No. He hasn’t.
Kurt Busch – who had been released from high-profile rides with Jack Roush and with Roger Penske – and at one point was holding on with a couple of single-car no-funds-in-the-bank teams – had rehabbed his image and his reputation to the point where he could drive again for a high-profile NASCAR team, Stewart-Haas Racing. The other drivers in Stewart-Haas? Tony Stewart (three-time Cup champion), Kevin Harvick (possibly the 2014 Sprint Cup champion) and Danica Patrick (IndyCar race winner and one of the most popular drivers on the race track without a last name of Earnhardt).
He won a race earlier this year, and he actually competed in the Indianapolis 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 on the same day. He was the Outlaw, a man with a violent, angry past who could win races even if he was driving a Prius with four flat tires. But this is a man whose anger and rage forced him to the depths of the racing world… until he found a way to claw back to the top.
Hope you enjoy those depths, Kurt. You’re heading back there now.
Last Wednesday, the police in Dover, Delaware began an investigation into domestic abuse charges against Kurt Busch. The incident is said to have occurred outside of Busch’s motor home at a race in Dover, and involved Busch and his ex-girlfriend Pamela Driscoll. The investigation is continuing.
Busch has already retained an attorney, Rusty Hardin – the same attorney who is currently representing Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, who is currently suspended from the NFL on charges of child abuse. Hardin issued the following statement:
“The Dover Police Department has been informed that Mr. Busch will fully cooperate with their investigation and he expects to be vindicated when the entire truth of the situation comes to light. This allegation is a complete fabrication by a woman who has refused to accept the end of a relationship and Mr. Busch vehemently denies her allegations in every respect. At this time we intend to have no further comment in the media out of respect for the Dover Police Department’s desire to conduct a thorough investigation without a media circus.”
At the same time, Busch had worked with and promoted Driscoll’s charitable organization, the Armed Forces Foundation. The AFF released the following statement:
“The Foundation will continue working to support service members, veterans, and military families … Given the serious nature of the allegations, the Foundation has suspended its association with Mr. Busch.”
Now before anybody jumps on my back and says, “Chuck, you’re condemning a man before he’s guilty…” let me say this. NASCAR is going to investigate this. The Dover Police Department is going to investigate this. But whatever decision comes from this… Kurt Busch is probably out of a job at the end of the season.
But the Associated Press has obtained a copy of the court documents… and in the AP’s story, there are plenty of sickening details about the day in question between Busch and Driscoll.
The documents, filed Wednesday, say Busch was despondent the night of Sept. 26 after his poor performance at the qualifying session.
“He was verbally abusive to her and said he wished he had a gun so that he could kill himself,” the documents say.
Driscoll said Busch, 36, called her names and accused her of “having spies everywhere and having a camera on the bus to watch him.” He then jumped up, grabbed her face and smashed her head three times against the wall next to the bed, Driscoll says in the documents.
Driscoll says she pushed Busch away and ran from the bedroom, going to a nearby bus to put an ice pack on her head and neck. She said the incident caused her severe pain, difficulty breathing and bruising on her neck.
He grabbed her face and smashed her head three times into a wall, according to the court documents. Think about this for a second.
NASCAR has had issues with drivers and domestic abuse in the past. Does the name Travis Kvapil ring a bell? And, in fact, Travis Kvapil still gets to drive in NASCAR’s top circuit – the Sprint Cup Series – with only a two-year probation from a domestic abuse charge.
And that was before Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson and War Machine and Greg Hardy and Slava Voynov and every other “charged with domestic abuse” athlete.
And let’s talk about sponsorships. Sponsors pay upwards of $20 million a year to have their logos plastered all over race cars – in Busch’s case, his main sponsors are Haas Automation and State Water Heaters. Do you think that a sponsor wants to put his support behind a race car driver with a domestic abuse charge – or even the investigation of one?
And Kurt Busch has a history of anger and volatility – whether it’s on the track or cursing out pit reporters after a race. Already every news report regarding Kurt Busch has brought up all of his past suspensions and transgressions and the like.
Kurt Busch may be one of the most talented drivers in NASCAR… but talent only gets you so far. NASCAR should do to Busch what they SHOULD have done with Travis Kvapil last year – if there’s a domestic abuse charge filed against a driver, and there is reasonable evidence that such abuse occurred, then Kurt Busch should be parked and suspended.
NASCAR needs to send this message. Violence against women will not be tolerated, especially when it involves one of their high-profile drivers.
And a personal message to Kurt Busch. Park your car. Go home. Get some professional help. Your life is more important than making a bunch of left turns on a superspeedway.