A Kent County (Del.) Family Court commissioner granted a protective order to Patricia Driscoll on Monday that prevents NASCAR driver Kurt Busch from coming within 100 yards of her and her home.
The order also says Busch must remain a “practicable distance” away from Driscoll, his ex-girlfriend, when both are at NASCAR tracks.
Busch is scheduled to compete in Sunday’s season-opening Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway. Driscoll is president of the Armed Forces Foundation, a charity devoted to veterans’ issues that does extensive marketing work within NASCAR.
The Delaware attorney general’s office has yet to decide whether to pursue criminal charges against Busch related to the incident.
A statement released Monday from NASCAR said it is aware of Monday’s court order and awaits “the full findings of the commissioner and any actions by the attorney general of Delaware related to the allegations against Busch.”
“As we stated earlier, NASCAR fully recognizes the serious nature of this specific situation and the broader issue of domestic violence. We will continue to gather information and monitor this situation very closely, and we expect our members to conduct themselves properly.”
Last week, Busch’s co-team owner, Tony Stewart, said the Stewart-Haas Racing operation had a contingency plan in place if Busch could not compete in NASCAR races.
“Though we are not surprised by the commissioner’s ruling, in light of the restrictions on the evidence he considered, we are deeply disappointed because we believe the evidence of Ms. Driscoll’s total lack of believability was overwhelming,” Busch’s attorney, Rusty Hardin, said in a statement. “It is important to note that the commissioner’s ruling is a civil family court matter and totally unconnected to any criminal investigation or finding.”
Hardin said he would appeal the order, which went into effect immediately and is good through Feb. 16, 2016.
In the order, a copy of which has been obtained by the Observer, the court makes the following declaration: “The Court finds by a preponderance of the evidence that the Respondent has committed an act or repeated acts of domestic violence against the Petitioner.”
With the finding, the court then placed a number of restrictions on Busch, including:
▪ He cannot threaten, molest, attack, harass or commit any other act of abuse against Driscoll and any minor children in her household.
▪ Busch cannot come within 100 yards of Driscoll’s person, residence or workplace. At NASCAR races, Busch must maintain a “practicable distance” from Driscoll if both are in attendance.
▪ Busch cannot attempt to contact Driscoll in any way.
▪ Busch must be evaluated for “mental health problems” and follow any recommendations by the evaluator.
In a statement, Joe Custer, SHR’s executive vice president, said the team’s course of action will be determined by the Delaware attorney general’s decision.
“These are serious allegations, and we do not take them lightly,” he said.
The order from the family court came with a notice that supplemental details and the opinion supporting Commissioner David Jones’ order would be released by Friday, two days before the Sprint Cup Series season opener.
Driscoll posted a message to her Twitter account Monday boasting of obtaining the order. She had deleted the tweet by Monday afternoon.
Driscoll filed a domestic assault claim Nov. 5 against Busch at the Dover (Del.) Police Department, nearly six weeks after the time of the incident, which allegedly took place during the September NASCAR race weekend in Dover.
Dover police concluded that investigation just before Christmas and forwarded the case file to the Delaware attorney general’s office for a decision on whether to press charges. Driscoll also filed for the protective order in November.
The hearing, however, lasted four days over two months before the decision was finally issued on Monday. Driscoll testified in the protective order hearing that Busch had slammed her head three times against the wall on Sept. 26 after she visited him at his motor home in Dover. Busch denied the allegations.
Utter: 704-358-5113; Twitter: @jim_utter.