DOVER, Del. – NASCAR driver Kurt Busch has been accused of domestic assault by his ex-girlfriend, and police in Delaware said Friday they are investigating.
The Dover Police Department said in a statement that the allegations were brought to the department Wednesday. Busch's ex-girlfriend, Patricia Driscoll, said the allegations involved an incident inside his motorhome at a race at Dover International Speedway in September, but did not go into more detail. The couple broke up about a week before.
NASCAR said it was aware of the situation and gathering information. Busch has not been charged. If he is, his case would play out after a series of high-profile cases involving prominent athletes ignited a national debate about how tough professional leagues are when allegations of abuse surface.
"It would be inappropriate for NASCAR to comment further on this matter until we have more information," it said in a statement.
A message left seeking comment with an attorney for Busch was not immediately returned. A spokesman for Stewart-Hass Racing, Mike Arning, said Busch's team was still gathering facts about the incident and not in a position to comment.
Known as "The Outlaw" in racing circles, Busch is the 2004 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion and one of the more accomplished drivers in the series. He was in his car practicing Friday for this weekend's race at Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale, Arizona.
Driscoll is an executive for a small Washington, D.C.-based defense consulting firm and president of the Armed Forces Foundation, a nonprofit for veterans. The couple met at a foundation dinner in 2011, and after hitting it off, Busch became a spokesman and ambassador for the foundation. The group severed its ties with him Friday because of the "serious nature of the allegations."
Busch has a history of run-ins on and off the track with drivers, NASCAR officials and reporters. He was suspended by Roush Racing for the last two races of the 2005 season after police cited him for reckless driving.
A fan caught Busch on video verbally abusing an ESPN reporter during the 2011 season finale, and Busch was fined $50,000 by NASCAR after the clip was posted on YouTube. He was suspended for one race in 2012 for verbally abusing a reporter.
Busch has seen a sports psychologist to learn to tame his emotions.
But with Driscoll, he appeared to have softened his image. She and her son, Houston, became fixtures in Busch's life. The pair came across as a happy couple when Busch attempted to complete the Coca Cola 600 and the Indianapolis 500 on the same day earlier this year, a feat only a handful of other drivers have attempted. They welcomed reporters into her Ellicott City, Maryland, home and cameras followed them around for weeks for the NBC documentary "Kurt Busch: 36."
They acted like a family: Busch, Driscoll and Houston went on a hunting trip this year in New Zealand and Busch took Houston fly fishing. The child got the nickname "The Mini Outlaw" as a regular at the track.
She celebrated his accomplishments publicly. Busch made the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship in his first season at Stewart-Haas Racing, and Driscoll tweeted regular updates from his NASCAR races this season. They frequently embraced on the track, or were seen walking hand in hand, never shying from public displays of affection.
Busch's talent has never been doubted, with 25 career Cup wins and the 2004 championship. But his prickly personality has scared away sponsors, and rides with deep-pocketed owners Jack Roush and Penske fizzled. His career detoured into journeyman status with single-car teams the last two seasons before landing at SHR.