(Reuters) - NASCAR driver Kurt Busch was ordered on Monday to stay away from his ex-girlfriend amid accusations of domestic violence, a Family Court commissioner in Kent County, Delaware, ruled.
Patricia Driscoll, 37, said Busch grabbed her by the neck inside his motorhome at Dover International Speedway in Delaware on Sept. 26 and repeatedly hit her head against a wall.
Busch, who is expected to ride in the Daytona 500 on Sunday, has denied the charges, testifying last month that he cupped Driscoll's cheeks but never smashed her head against a wall.
Commissioner David Jones said in his order that Busch, the 2004 NASCAR champion, "has committed an act or repeated acts of domestic violence against" Driscoll.
The one-year order requires the 36-year-old Busch to stay at least 100 yards (91 meters) away from Driscoll, except at NASCAR races where his work might require him to be closer.
It is now up to the Delaware attorney general's office to determine whether it will seek criminal charges.
In a statement, NASCAR said it "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,” NASCAR said.
Busch's attorney, Rusty Hardin, said he will appeal the ruling.
"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," said Hardin.
Driscoll's lawyer, Mark Dycio, said his client "has been confident throughout the process that the truth would prevail, which it clearly has."
"The court saw this matter exactly for what it was -- a man who refuses to take responsibility for his actions. The court's order reflects the events of the night in question: Mr. Busch assaulted Ms. Driscoll," Dycio said.
Reporting by Steve Ginsburg in Washington; Editing by Alan Crosby and Eric Walsh