Thursday, March 5, 2015

Statements from Patricia Driscoll and her attorneys on no charges filed

Statement from Patricia Driscoll
    While I respect the process, I am disappointed that full justice was not served here. My family and I take a measure of solace in the Order of Protection From Abuse granted by commissioner Jones, who ruled my account of the facts was the most credible. At great risk to my personal and professional reputation, I have spoken candidly, at length, and on the record, to a variety of outlets in an effort to correct the distortions and sensationalism that have unfortunately marked the coverage of this painful time in my family’s life. I would urge anyone covering this case to stick to the well-established facts. Giving further air to baseless and discredited accusations about me does a disservice to the public and reduces a serious matter for law enforcement into tabloid gossip. In all future developments in this case, I will continue to stand up for my integrity and for justice. But for now, I am focused on my family, my friends, and my important and gratifying work with the Armed Forces Foundation.

Statement from Mark Dycio, attorney for Driscoll
   The decision from the Delaware Attorney General does not deny that the assault occurred, and indicates only that the state’s attorneys lack confidence in their ability to get a criminal conviction. It changes nothing about the established facts of the case. Mr. Busch testified in open court that he squeezed Patricia’s face, and admitted to police that he slammed her head against the wall in the process. Given that these admissions establish an assault took place, and that police recommended Mr. Busch be prosecuted, it seems impossible that the attorney general’s office made this decision on burden of proof grounds. It would be unfortunate, and a terrible precedent for victims of abuse, if the prospect of inviting a media circus fueled by Mr. Busch’s wealth, notoriety, and hostile PR team in any way swayed this decision. We are comforted at least in the knowledge that the judge who did hear the evidence found clear reason to believe Busch committed the assault, and granted the protective order to Patricia and her family. 

   Statement from Carolyn McNiece, attorney for Driscoll
   Patricia and I are very disappointed that Kurt will not be prosecuted for the abusive acts he committed in September. The AG's decision, however, only makes the Order that we received for Protection from Abuse that much more important. As you can see, in some cases, this is the only protection the victim will get. This civil no contact order is a critical tool for protecting victims.

Statement from NASCAR driver Kurt Busch on no criminal charges filed

   Statement from NASCAR driver Kurt Busch

   I am grateful that the prosecutors in Delaware listened, carefully considered the evidence, and after a thorough investigation decided to not file criminal charges against me.  I wish to thank my family, friends, fans, and race team who stood by me throughout this nightmare with their unwavering support.  Thanks also goes to my legal team for making sure that the truth got out and was fully provided to the prosecutors.  As I have said from the beginning, I did not commit domestic abuse.  I look forward to being back in racing as soon as possible and moving on with my life.

   Kurt Busch

Delaware Attorney General: No criminal charges for NASCAR driver Kurt Busch

   Statement from Delaware Department of Justice

   The Delaware Department of Justice has carefully reviewed the complaint made of an alleged act of domestic violence involving Kurt Busch in Dover on September 26, 2014, which was reported to the Dover Police Department on November 5, 2014 and investigated. After a thorough consideration of all of the available information about the case, it is determined that the admissible evidence and available witnesses would likely be insufficient to meet the burden of establishing beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Busch committed a crime during the September 26thincident. Likelihood of meeting that high burden of proof is the standard for prosecutors in bringing a case. For this reason, the Department of Justice will not pursue criminal charges in this case.

   Carl Kanefsky
   Public Information Officer
   Delaware Department of Justice

Monday, March 2, 2015

Why Kurt Busch's reinstatement path in NASCAR may not be as easy as it sounds

   While it is true Kurt Busch on Monday agreed to follow NASCAR's recommended guidelines to be eligible for eventual reinstatement, his eligibility for reinstatement may end up being affected by issues outside of his control.

   NASCAR spokesman David Higdon told the Observer the sanctioning body established terms for Busch's possible reinstatement based solely on the facts the sanctioning body has on hands today, in other words on the opinion issued last month of a Kent County (Del.) Family Court commissioner who found Busch committed an act of domestic violence against his ex-girlfriend, Patricia Driscoll, during a confrontation in his motorhome last September.

   Higdon declined to identify the requirements Busch has to meet but said an outside consultant helped design them.

   Even if Busch were to complete all of NASCAR's requirements to its satisfaction, it's still possible Busch could remain indefinitely suspended. That's because the Delaware Attorney General has yet to decide whether to charge Busch criminally for the same incident.

   "Anything from the Attorney General's decision to other information in the days and weeks ahead of course could affect his eligibility for reinstatement," Higdon said.

   So, in effect, Busch remains in suspension limbo because regardless of what Busch does for NASCAR in the coming weeks, the last obstacle to his reinstatement rests in a decision the Delaware Attorney General seems in no hurry to make.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Marcus Smith: Safety changes possible next week to Las Vegas

   Speedway Motorsports Inc. CEO Marcus Smith told the Observer on Saturday that he expects more safety enhancements will be made to SMI's tracks, including the possibility of changes to Las Vegas Motor Speedway, site of next weekend's NASCAR Sprint Cup and Xfinity series races.

   "I don't know if NASCAR officials have been out there to review it, they've been pretty busy between Daytona and Atlanta," Smith said. "I wouldn't be surprised that come Monday we have some additions."

   Before Kyle Busch's wreck at Daytona last weekend, SMI had already planned additions to energy-absorbing SAFER barriers at three of its tracks - Charlotte, New Hampshire and Kentucky. 

   Upon a recommendation from NASCAR, SMI sent 1,100 tires this week to Atlanta Motor Speedway to cover some areas of the track with tire packs that are not protected by SAFER barriers.

   "With Kyle's accident in Daytona, it's caused us to look twice at everything and we're working with NASCAR to see what else there is out there and I expect there will be more additions to SAFER barriers," Smith said.

    "We rely on NASCAR's guidance on that. We have installed SAFER barriers wherever they have asked us to put it."

Friday, February 27, 2015

Sprint Cup Series director Richard Buck: Teams 'pushing it' in pre-qualifying inspection

   Thirteen teams failed to pass pre-qualifying inspection Friday at Atlanta Motor Speedway and failed to post a speed during group qualifying. The problems transcended the series from struggling low-budget teams to those of Sprint Cup Series stars Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Tony Stewart.

   The Cup series director, Richard Buck, addressed questions about the problems encountered during Friday's inspection process, in which every team made it through inspection but 13 could not fix their issues in time to participate in qualifying.

   Q.  Richard, was there a common issue with most of the cars, or what was the predominant problem for people being unable to get through inspection? 
    Buck: I think we saw different areas where the teams were pushing the limits to get through it.  We've got a new rules package here, and obviously the history of Atlanta and the grip is so important here, I think we've seen that with the test yesterday, teams getting to the limits, and we were open yesterday for all day on the laser inspection station and templates and such, and we had quite a few cars that came through.  We did see the area of the laser inspection station where teams were pushing it, and that's their job.  They're trying to get every bit that they can. We made every effort ‑‑ our goal was to make sure everybody has a fair opportunity to get through there, so our focus was to make sure that we ran ‑‑ were able to run every car across there at least once to give them an opportunity, and that's what we did. 

    Q.  Did you consider delaying the start or increasing the length of the first round even more, and then also, there were some people who said that you kind of stopped giving out sheets of paper as far as go or no go, and they felt like you were kind of more lax near the end or once kind of the qualifying session started. 
   Buck: Yeah, as far as the time goes, we worked with the teams, we worked with everybody.  Obviously we have partners with television and we're time certain, but we could see the trend starting to develop there, so our job was to try and work with the teams and allow them to meet the parameters, the rules that we have set in place, and so we were able to push it 15 minutes in an effort to give them as much time as we could, in answer to that question.

   In answer to your second question as far as slacking off at all on that, we don't do that.  We treat everybody the same.  There was cars that came through there two and even a couple cars that came through three times, effort.  Everybody got a fair shot at coming through there in a timely manner, and then obviously at the end, we saw the time frame and we were hustling and pushing.  I was pushing all of our officials, but that pushing on the officials was ‑‑ is pushing to physically keep the same accuracy when it was a mechanical job, but the laser itself, it's automated, so there's no ‑‑ there was no difference from the first cars that went through there to the last ones. 

    Q. What's the solution here, because obviously it's not something that you want or the teams want to have a situation like this.  Is it all on the teams to just have their stuff together the first time they come through? 
   Buck: That's a good question, and that's where we work with the teams on a daily basis.  We'll look at the process and try to understand it.  We put more cars through there today than normal, and in a timely fashion.  Last year about four races into it, we were putting a lot of pressure on the crew chiefs, we had a lot of work for them to get ‑‑ it was new.  We had the ride height rules, and we could see that process was strained, if you will, so we worked with the teams to adjust that, and we actually last year about, I think it was the third or fourth race in, we were able to work with our tracks and our partners and be able to extend that inspection time to allow them more time to get through there. 

   But it's tough. The teams have to hustle, the crew chiefs will tell you, they've got a brand new package here with new downforce and new driver combinations and new teams, and to put it all on them, the first one, it was a tough one. We'll look at it as we always do with a fine microscope and get input from the teams, and then if down the road, if we can and see the need, we'll make an adjustment. 

   Q. Can you explain the process of determining the order for inspection for everybody, because I know there's been a lot of questions about how do you decide who went first, who goes last?
   Buck: There's a couple of key things that we look at, and it's how to be as fair as we can through the inspection process. That trickles down, as well. It's a random draw. It's random, and that is your order on pit road for qualifying, your pit stall, and it also is your order for inspection. At 55 minutes after the final practice before qualifying, we put on the crew chiefs a tremendous load to put their setups on and be in line, but we stop the work for everybody.  It doesn't matter if you're last in line or first in line, at 55 minutes, to be fair to everybody, all work stops on the cars, we push them to the back of the garage, and inspection starts.  They may sit there for a while but they're not having that opportunity to continue to work on the car which makes it unfair.  That's how the process works. 

   We have each station that's timed.  It's about two and a half minutes per station, and we try to manage that dynamic, and if a car comes through there, the incentive today, unlike years ago where you could cut the line and keep the incentive, today it's to come through right because everybody gets one opportunity to come through the entire inspection process, and their job is to be right, and if they're not right at that inspection station, that's when they go in a holding pen if you will or a holding pattern and have to stay there until everybody else has the opportunity to come through to be fair to everybody.  Once that's through, then we allow them in the order that they were received to begin with, that's the order that they go back through inspection.

Travis Kvapil's race car stolen; Denny Hamlin's motorhome wrecked

   It's been an eventful morning at Atlanta Motor Speedway so far with one Sprint Cup Series driver's race car allegedly stolen and another driver's motorhome sustaining damage from a SUV that somehow rolled down an embankment and through a fence.

   Team Xtreme, which planned to field an entry this weekend with driver Travis Kvapil, reported a truck and small hauler stolen from its hotel parking lot in Morrow, Ga., this morning. Inside the hauler was the No. 44 Chevrolet Kvapil planned to run Sunday's Folds of Honor 500.

   The incident was first reported by TV station KFVS-12. 

   Without the car, the team was forced to withdraw from the race.

   Here are Twitter posts from Kvapil referring to the incident:

   Also this morning, Cup crew chief Rodney Childers posted a picture on Twitter of a white SUV that somehow rolled backwards through a fence, down an embankment and into a motorhome owned by driver Denny Hamlin.

   According to a team spokesman, the owner of the SUV thought he had put the vehicle in park. He had not and it rolled down the hill causing superficial damage to the motorhome.