NASCAR did the right thing by suspending Kurt Busch in February.
NASCAR did the right thing by reinstating Busch in March.
Domestic violence has risen as an important topic of discussion in all sports, and rightfully so. That always hasn't been the case. Ask NFL commissioner Roger Goodell if you have any questions.
Legal standards are important, but there is also a moral one to consider. Commissioners and leaders of sports don't have to be bound strictly by legal standards.
NASCAR acted properly in suspending Busch in February after a Delaware Family Court judge issued a protective order, saying there was "a preponderance of the evidence" that Busch choked and beat his ex-girlfriend Patricia Driscoll inside his motor home at Dover International Speedway last fall. He didn't need to be formally charged for NASCAR to act accordingly.
Legal clarity came last week when the Delaware attorney general's office decided not to file criminal charges against Busch, citing that there was not enough evidence. NASCAR then ruled him good to go.
Then on Tuesday, authorities in Delaware denied a motion by Busch's legal team to reopen the civil protection order.
It is perfectly fine to root against Busch the rest of the season. It is perfectly fine to cheer him on. But the man deserves to make a living.
"Yes, domestic violence is a serious issue," Busch said in an interview with Chris Myers, Fox NASCAR Sunday host, last weekend in Phoenix. "The next step is the worst problem with that is when you're falsely accused of it. It hurts the real victims. ...
"In somebody who has had moments of anger issues, that is one thing when you're frustrated about a bad finish. But going to a step to actually hurt a woman or to hurt somebody, that's not in my realm. That's way beyond my reach."
By most accounts, Busch and Driscoll were engaged in a relationship involving two strong personalities for over three years. Busch has a long history of temperamental dust-ups on the NASCAR circuit. Driscoll's temperamental issues are documented in a YouTube video clip called "Pocket Commando," touting Driscoll's expertise as president of a company known as Frontline Defense Systems.
She is portrayed as a "commando mommy" who swills shots, swears like a sailor and does not like it when you disagree with her.
"If you cross her, she'll grab you by the [privates] and twist them and tear them right off," a colleague says during the clip.
The video has since been removed from the Internet, citing a copyright claim by Driscoll.
Does that mean that Busch is completely innocent? Certainly there are some who won't give him a pass because of his bratty history.
"I feel like I haven't handled a lot of the situations in my past to the best of my ability," Busch said. "As I move forward and as I put things in place, yes, I want to do a better job of coming through this with class and dignity."
But the truth is that only two people know for sure what happened in that motor home.
And that based on all the legalities, Busch has earned the benefit of a doubt to drive again.
firstname.lastname@example.org Read George Diaz's blog at OrlandoSentinel.com/enfuego
NASCAR's belated safety push continues with the recent proclamation by Daytona International Speedway to add a number of improvements in time for the July race. They include:
•Additional 20,000 square feet of asphalt in Turn 1.
•Realignment of a portion of the inside retaining wall from the infield road-course exit to Turn 1.
• Installation of SAFER barrier (Steel and Foam Energy Reduction) on the realigned retaining wall and existing retaining wall in Turn 1.
• Installation of SAFER barrier on the retaining wall at the pit-road exit.
• Installation of SAFER barrier between the exit of Turn 4 to the pit-road entry.
"In addition, based on material availability and timing, we will install SAFER barrier on the outside backstretch wall and will complete as much as possible prior to the July NASCAR weekend," Daytona president Joie Chitwood III said in a statement.
"Following the July races, we will complete any remaining installation of SAFER barrier on the outside backstretch wall, and continue to install SAFER barrier on the remaining areas of the property. We will provide additional updates regarding our safety initiatives as circumstances warrant. The safety of the competitors and our fans is our top priority."
In related news, Jeff Gordon met with NASCAR officials last week over concerns that track operators weren't acting quickly enough to install SAFER barrier to cover vulnerable areas. He seemed appeased after the meeting.
"Maybe that was me getting a little bit ahead of myself as far as what the phased plan was," Gordon said. "All I can tell you is that everybody is doing everything they possibly can right now to speed that process up and get these walls covered. And that's what I'm most happy about right now."
Kevin Harvick's total domination of the first month of the season is only eclipsed by the unexpected consistency and success of Martin Truex Jr. He set two team records at Phoenix with his seventh-place finish.
Truex became the first Furniture Row Racing driver to get four consecutive top-10 finishes. He is now in third place in the Cup driver standings, the highest-ever ranking for Furniture Row Racing. Truex is five points behind Joey Logano and 27 points behind Harvick.
NASCAR's push to diversify and go global continues with the announcement this week that it has signed a seven-year media broadcast extension with Fox Sports Latin America.
The extension allows Fox Sports Latin America to continue to telecast live races for all three of NASCAR's top series across Latin America, including Brazil. Additional NASCAR programming on Fox Sports Latin America will includes the NASCAR K&N Pro Series.
"Globalization is a key initiative for NASCAR, and there is no question that partnering with Fox Sports Latin America has been integral to the sport's growth in this region over the past several years," NASCAR chief operating officer Brent Dewar said in a statement. "In addition to ensuring the presence of NASCAR racing content for existing fans for the next seven years, this extension will allow NASCAR and Fox to build upon the work that's already been done in cultivating NASCAR fans in Latin America."