Suspended driver Kurt Busch has agreed to NASCAR's terms and conditions to pursue reinstatement last Friday, starting the process toward regaining his competition license.
NASCAR issued an indefinite suspension Feb. 20, barring Busch from all NASCAR-related activity after a Delaware family court commissioner found a "preponderance of the evidence" indicated that Busch "committed an act of domestic violence" against former girlfriend Patricia Driscoll last September at Dover International Speedway.
NASCAR spokesman David Higdon said Monday morning that the sanctioning body consulted with an outside expert to personalize the terms and conditions that Busch will need to meet, adding that there is not a target date in place for his potential return to Sprint Cup Series competition.
"No timetable whatsoever. That's what the experts tell us," Higdon said. "There are certain things that need to happen within a certain period of time, but there's no timetable in terms of a return perspective. Secondly, before we put this in place when we worked with the experts on it, they were very adamant about saying the most important thing if you pursue any type of action in this area that you need to have a return-back program. That was why this was atop of our list as soon as the penalty was assessed, our next course of action was to clearly get in front of him the terms and conditions for the reinstatement of the license."
Higdon said that Busch's path toward possible reinstatement is separate from the terms of the report filed by Kent County (Del.) Commissioner David Jones, who required that Busch "be evaluated by a licensed mental health professional" and to complete any prescribed plan of treatment.
"It's very much tailored to each individual case," Higdon said of NASCAR's requirements, drawing comparisons to programs it has previously created for substance abuse and diversity sensitivity issues. "Ultimately, we've tried to get among the best in the class to execute the program, and we let them do that externally and then let them come back to us with their recommendations."
The former Sprint Cup Series champion made two appeals Feb. 21, the day after the penalty was announced and the day before the season-opening Daytona 500, but both challenges to the ruling were denied. In both hearings, the two infractions in the NASCAR Rule Book — Section 12.1.a: Actions detrimental to stock car racing; and 12.8: Behavioral penalty — were upheld, first by a three-person National Motorsports Appeals Panel and lastly by National Motorsports Final Appeals Officer Bryan Moss.
Regan Smith, last year's runner-up in the NASCAR XFINITY Series, has filled in for Busch in the first two Sprint Cup events of the season as driver of the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 41 Chevrolet. He will again pilot the car this weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.