The incident is alleged to have occurred inside Busch’s motorhome at Dover International Speedway on Friday, Sept. 26, but was not reported to law enforcement until last Wednesday. And while the investigation is still in its early stages, the case promises to be explosive.
The department has not identified who filed the complaint against Busch, but longtime girlfriend Patricia Driscoll has confirmed that she was the complainant. In court documents, Driscoll claimed Busch was "verbally abusive to her and said he wished he had a gun so that he could kill himself” after a poor qualifying effort at Dover.
Driscoll said Busch called her names and accused her of "having spies everywhere and having a camera on the bus to watch him." The complaint alleges that Busch “grabbed Driscoll’s face and smashed her head against a wall three times.” Driscoll says she pushed Busch away and ran to a nearby motorhome to put an ice pack on her head and neck, and suffered from severe pain, difficulty breathing and bruising.
Busch’s attorney, Rusty Hardin, vigorously denied those allegations, calling them “a complete fabrication by a woman who has refused to accept the end of a relationship.” He said Busch will cooperate fully with the investigation and “expects to be vindicated when the entire truth of the situation comes to light.”
There is little or no common ground in the stories told by Busch and Driscoll. With such a gaping disparity in testimony, it’s clear that someone is – at very least – fudging the truth. While it may be tempting to choose between “he said” and “she said,” NASCAR, its fans and media members must avoid the urge to do so.
Late last week, NASCAR issued a statement saying they are aware of the investigation, “recognize the seriousness of this matter and are actively gathering information from all parties, including law enforcement authorities and Stewart-Haas Racing.”
In marked contrast to the National Football League -- where Commissioner Roger Goodell has drawn fire for ruling on cases involving Ray Rice, Greg Hardy, Adrian Peterson and Ray McDonald before the facts were known -- NASCAR will remain in the background, allowing law enforcement officials to do their jobs and determine exactly what went down on the evening of September 26.
Much as they did when driver Travis Kvapil was arrested in October of last year on domestic violence charges, NASCAR will wait to see whether there was actual wrongdoing, or simply accusations. Stewart Haas Racing will do the same, allowing Busch to compete while the accusations against him are investigated.
“This is an allegation Stewart-Haas Racing takes very seriously,” said the team last week, “but we’re still gathering all of the facts.”
That is enough, as both team and sanctioning body attempt to balance fairness to Busch with a clear and unquestionable stance against domestic violence. Unfortunately, not everyone is interested in fairness or restraint.
After the tragic death of Sprint Car driver Kevin Ward, Jr. in early August, many fans and media members passed immediate judgment on former Sprint Cup Series champion Tony Stewart, leveling misguided allegations of intentional misconduct, or even outright murder. They ate a healthy portion of crow a few weeks later, however, when a grand jury examined the facts and found Stewart blameless.
Now, many of those same knee-jerk reactionaries are jumping to conclusions again, using Busch’s tempestuous history as grounds for conviction, or citing the six weeks that elapsed between the alleged incident and Driscoll’s police report as proof of a “woman scorned” defense.
Some folks never learn.