A Delaware court today concluded that embattled NASCAR driver Kurt Busch "more likely than not" strangled his ex-girlfriend and smashed her head against a wall last year. The driver has also been suspended indefinitely from racing.
ESPN reports that a Kent County, Delaware family court commissioner found it is likely "by a preponderance of the evidence" that Busch attacked ex-girlfriend Patricia Driscoll during a September race weekend at Dover International Speedway, strangling her and smashing her head against a wall during an argument in his motor home. The commissioner will require Busch to undergo mental health evaluations.
While the Delaware attorney general's office is still deciding whether to file criminal charges against Busch, racing officials acted swiftly in suspending Busch indefinitely.
That news broke recently and no details about it are immediately available. Busch was scheduled to start in the 24th position at this weekend's Daytona 500, the sport's flagship race.
The court's ruling and Busch's subsequent suspension is the latest development in a domestic violence case that took a turn for the bizarre during hearings where Driscoll sought a protective order. There, Busch insisted Driscoll was a trained assassin. The court commissioner sided with Driscoll instead. From ESPN's report:
In his opinion released Friday, Jones wrote that Driscoll's version of the events that night was more credible, citing, among other things, her demeanor when she recalled and described the events of that night.
"[Busch's] version of the events is implausible, does not make sense and is unlikely to be true given the totality of the other evidence admitted at trial," Jones wrote.
Update: And here's the statement from NASCAR, which said Busch was suspended for "actions detrimental to stock car racing" and the organization's "behavioral penalty."
"Given the serious nature of the findings and conclusions made by the Commissioner of the Family Court of the State of Delaware, NASCAR has indefinitely suspended driver Kurt Busch, effective immediately. He will not be allowed to race nor participate in any NASCAR activities until further notice.
"Kurt Busch and his Stewart-Haas Racing team are fully aware of our position and why this decision was made. We will continue to respect the process and timetable of the authorities involved."
This story and headline have been updated to be more clear on the judge's ruling in the case, which said Busch "more likely than not" committed an act of abuse against his former girlfriend.