|NASCAR's David Higdon|
NASCAR vice president of Integrated Marketing Communications David Higdon told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s “The Morning Drive” today that NASCAR had no choice but to suspend driver Kurt Busch in the aftermath of a Delaware Family Court’s decision to grant a no-contact order to former girlfriend Patricia Driscoll.
Higdon said NASCAR’s decision to suspend Busch during Speedweeks 2015 at Daytona was “based on what we heard from the Commissioner in the Family Court of the state of Delaware.”
Asked about the timing of the decision – just days before the season-opening Daytona 500 -- Higdon said, “We were called to task for waiting like we did. We utilized the patience that was necessary to gather the appropriate information. Then, unfortunately, the timing hit us during the Daytona 500 where Kurt received a court order from the Family Court of the state of Delaware. That was a 25-page document that we simply couldn’t ignore. It was a very clear case made by that court.
“When you have a legitimate court in Delaware make a statement like they did, it would have been ridiculous for us to not act. We had been very patient over three months. We were dragged through lot of mud during that period, but we also felt that it was only fair to the driver that the facts come through.
“When they ultimately did come… we had to act. We had to make a decision (and) it was unanimous among those involved in that decision.
Yesterday, the Delaware Department of Justice announced that it would not file criminal domestic assault charges against Busch, citing insufficient evidence to prosecute.
“We knew there was a chance that the Attorney General could go one way or the other,” said Higdon, “(and) the Department of Justice was very clear in their statement. They determined that admissible evidence and available witnesses would likely be inefficient to meet the burden of establishing beyond a reasonable doubt that he committed a crime. They were very clear on that, just as the Commissioner in the Family Court was very clear that they were satisfied with the evidence that was presented at the trial that there was a case here.’’
Higdon commented on the 2013 domestic violence case involving former NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion Travis Kvapil, where Kvapil was not sanctioned by NASCAR despite being charged and receiving two years’ probation and community service as part of a deferred prosecution agreement.
“We learned a lot,” admitted Higdon. “If we had to do that over again, we probably would have done it differently. There’s no doubt that our knowledge and experience… with domestic violence and what we’ve seen in the world at large has had an impact.
“We said moving forward that the standard was going to be higher. We watched the NFL. We began talking to experts in that area when the NFL was going through (its situations with Ray Rice, Greg Hardy and others). We proactively made sure that we understood the issue. We learned about it long before we actually had the situation with Kurt Busch.
“We had already begun down the path to (deciding that) if we had a situation related to domestic violence, we would definitely react differently than with Travis Kvapil.’’
Higdon repeated the sanctioning body’s earlier statement that the decision by Delaware’s Department of Justice not charge Busch “certainly is something that is removing a significant impediment to his reinstatement.’’
He did not provide a timeline for Busch’s return, or comment on conditions the sanctioning body has placed on his reinstatement.