NASCAR on Wednesday lifted its indefinite suspension of Sprint Cup Series driver Kurt Busch and his Stewart-Haas Racing team confirmed he will be back behind the wheel of its No. 41 team in Sunday’s race at Phoenix International Raceway.
NASCAR also granted Busch a waiver for missing the first three races of the season so, in theory, if he can win a race and be in the Top 30 of points after the season’s 26th race, he could still compete for the series championship.
"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," said Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR’s executive vice president and chief racing development officer.
"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."
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Busch was suspended two days before the season-opening Daytona 500 after a Kent County (Del.) Family Court commissioner granted a protective order to Busch’s ex-girlfriend, Patricia Driscoll.
In his opinion, the commissioner found "by a preponderance of the evidence" Busch had committed a domestic assault last September against Driscoll.
Last week, the Delaware Attorney General’s office elected not to pursue criminal charges against Busch in the matter.
The protective order against Busch remains in effect for a year.
Among the restrictions placed on Busch by the order: He cannot threaten or harass Driscoll or attempt to contact her; he must not come within 100 yards of Driscoll’s person or workplace; and must be evaluated for "mental health problems" and follow any recommendations by the evaluator.
NASCAR has also placed Busch on indefinite probation and said he must comply with all NASCAR and judicial requirements placed on him.
"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," O’Donnell said.
Utter: 704-358-5113; Twitter: @jim_utter.