According to Associated Press reporter Jenna Fryer, Kurt Busch has been reinstated by NASCAR and will be eligible to participate in the Chase for the Sprint Cup. The fact that no criminal charges were pressed over the domestic assault allegations against Busch was a key factor in NASCAR's decision.
NASCAR usually requires that a driver compete in all events to be eligible for the Chase for the Sprint Cup at the end of the season, however, they will waive this requirement for Busch. Busch will start his season with zero Championship points after missing the first three Sprint Cup races of 2015.
Shortly after NASCAR lifted Busch's suspension, Stewart-Haas Racing confirmed that Busch will be back in his number 41 car:
Busch recently agreed to terms for the consideration of his reinstatement as a driver with NASCAR. According to NASCAR, Busch has fulfilled every requirement asked of him so far, including mandatory behavioral assessment sessions.
"The behavioral health care expert who conducted the sessions recommended to NASCAR that Kurt Busch be allowed to return to competition," said NASCAR in a statement released on their website today.
Busch will still have to meet additional requirements to remain in NASCAR's good graces, including continuing his treatment program and complying with any judicial requirements placed on him, such as the protective order which remains in effect. Although the suspension has been lifted, Busch remains on indefinite probation.
It was the fact that Busch met all of the requirements NASCAR put in place in their terms for reinstatement as well as the lack of criminal charges that led NASCAR to this decision.
Busch had been placed on indefinite suspension by NASCAR after additional information was released from court hearings related to Busch ex-girlfriend Patricia Driscoll. Conclusions drawn by the Commissioner of the Family Court of Delaware stated that Busch "more likely than not" strangled Driscoll and smashed her head against a wall.
However, the evidence given for those civil hearings did not stand up to the more stringent criminal burden of proof, and the Delaware Department of Justice decided not to press criminal charges over Driscoll's allegations that she was assaulted by Busch.
NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O'Donnell explained the decision in a statement today:
As we stated last week, the elimination of the possibility of criminal charges removed a significant impediment to Kurt Busch's return to full status as a NASCAR member. We therefore have decided to move him to indefinite probation and waive the Chase requirement. He has fully complied with our reinstatement program during his suspension and the health care expert who conducted his evaluation recommended his immediate return.
We have made it very clear to Kurt Busch our expectations for him moving forward, which includes participation in a treatment program and full compliance with all judicial requirements as a result of his off-track behavior.
Busch will return to driving the number 41 car for this weekend's race at Phoenix International Speedway.
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