CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Story by Race Chaser Online Mid-Atlantic Correspondent Marshall Gabell – Sean Gardner/Getty Images North America photo –
It has been a grueling six months for 2004 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Kurt Busch, who was reinstated by NASCAR officials this afternoon.
Busch, after allegations of domestic violence from his ex-girlfriend Patricia Driscoll (stemming from an alleged incident at Dover International Speedway last September), has gone through multiple court appearances and missed the opening three races of the 2015 Sprint Cup season (after being suspended just hours before the Daytona 500).
However, with his reinstatement and the shadows of the past behind him, the Stewart-Haas Racing veteran could not be more excited to be back at the race track this weekend.
“It means the world to me to be back in the car,” Busch said as part of a NASCAR teleconference on Wednesday afternoon. “It’s been a tough situation the last few months, and I’ve gone through this with confidence knowing that I know the truth and that I never did any of the things that I was accused of. It was a complete fabrication.”
While it has been a rough patch, Busch is appreciative that his team has stuck with him and he is looking forward to greeting and thanking them for their support at the track this weekend.
“It’s unfortunate that my personal life crossed over and affected my business life, but I can’t wait to get to the track, to see my team, to shake their hands and say thanks for the support, and to go out there and make my first lap this weekend.
Busch, who has been known as NASCAR’s ‘Outlaw’ throughout his career, also expressed that he is not worried about his reputation – he is just looking to get back onto the track and hand Gene Haas (his team owner) more victories and trophies this season.
“You know, my focus is the race car,” Busch expressed. “My reputation has always been what I’ve done behind the wheel, and it’s moments that I hope to battle and it’s to focus on the wins at the tracks that I haven’t won on or to deliver for Gene Haas on the trophies that he signed me on for that he wants in his trophy room.”
With his reinstatement, Busch will also be Chase-eligible despite missing the first three races (NASCAR granted Busch an exemption from the requirement of qualifying for every regular-season race) — and he is putting that at the forefront of his mind as he looks to notch a second championship in the Sprint Cup Series this season.
“I hope to start off this year in that same pattern, and my start is a little late,” Busch said. “It’s at Phoenix. So I’m looking forward to it. I believe I’ve got cars that are capable of winning races, now I’ve just got to go out there and do my job.”
Busch will make his return to the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet this weekend at Phoenix International Speedway during the CampingWorld.com 500.