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Kurt Busch suspended by NASCAR following domestic abuse allegations

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Kurt Busch will not race in Sunday’s Daytona 500.

Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Kurt Busch is indefinitely suspended by NASCAR for "actions detrimental to stock car racing" and will not be permitted to compete in Sunday's Daytona 500, the sport's marquee race.

Stewart-Haas Racing named Regan Smith to drive Busch's No. 41 car in Sunday's race.

"Given the serious nature of the findings and conclusions made by the Commissioner of the Family Court of the State of Delaware, NASCAR has indefinitely suspended driver Kurt Busch, effective immediately," a NASCAR-issued statement read. "He will not be allowed to race nor participate in any NASCAR activities until further notice.

"Kurt Busch and his Stewart-Haas Racing team are fully aware of our position and why this decision was made. We will continue to respect the process and timetable of the authorities involved."

Busch plans to appeal NASCAR's ruling. A hearing is scheduled for Saturday, according to a NASCAR spokesman. He was scheduled to start the Daytona 500 in the 24th position.

"We are extremely disappointed that NASCAR has suspended Kurt Busch and we plan an immediate appeal," said Rusty Hardin, Busch's attorney in a statement. "We assure everyone, including NASCAR, that this action against Mr. Busch will turn out to be a travesty of justice, apparent to all, as this story continues to unfold.

"It is important for everyone to remember that the Commissioner's report has to do with a civil, family law matter and no criminal charges have been filed against Mr. Busch."

The suspension follows allegations Busch physically assaulted his former girlfriend, Patricia Driscoll, who was issued an order of protection by a Delaware Family Court Monday. In issuing an order of protection, Commissioner David Jones determined evidence showed Busch grabbed Patricia Driscoll by the throat "manually strangling her" while placing his other hand on her hand and face and smashing her head against a wall.

The incident is alleged to have occurred in Busch's motor home Sept. 26 at Dover International Speedway.  A criminal investigation is ongoing, with the Attorney General's office determining whether to file charges against Busch.

In a statement following Busch's suspension, Driscoll commended NASCAR for taking action. She asked the sanctioning body to establish a confidential system to report domestic violence without fear of reprisal.

"For victims of domestic violence there are no ‘victories,'" Driscoll said. "My only hope is that the pain and trauma I suffered through this process will help other victims find their voice.  Unfortunately we live in a culture where stories like mine are often swept under the rug out of fear and with the knowledge that for every person who shows empathy many more will seek to disparage the victim. It is bad enough to endure the actual physical abuse but the verbal attacks that follow when a victim speaks up are sometimes just as painful."

Throughout the proceedings Busch has maintained innocence. His attorneys have attempted to portray Driscoll as a vengeful ex-girlfriend set on ruining Busch's career.

Citing new evidence, Hardin filed a motion to re-open the protection order case Thursday. Hardin contends Driscoll perjured herself during testimony and tampered with witnesses.

The suspension is the third of Busch's career. He was suspended for the final two races of the 2005 season by Roush Fenway Racing following a traffic dispute with police in Arizona, and in 2012 for threatening a reporter at Dover.

Chevrolet immediately suspended its relationship with Busch following Friday's announcement. Busch is the first NASCAR driver to be suspended for domestic violence.