Home » NASCAR - Sprint Cup Series

Tony Stewart To Return This Weekend; Can Race For Championship; Is Fined By NASCAR

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Thursday, April 21 2016
Tony Stewart will race in Richmond this weekend. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by David Tulis)

Tony Stewart will race in Richmond this weekend. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by David Tulis)

Tony Stewart announced on his team’s Stewart-Haas Racing website Thursday that he has been cleared by doctors to return to driving duty and that he will return to a Sprint Cup cockpit at Richmond International Raceway this weekend.

NASCAR confirmed that Stewart has been cleared to drive and issued the following statement by Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR’s executive vice president and chief racing development officer: “NASCAR received the appropriate medical clearance documentation allowing Tony Stewart to resume normal racing activities. We also have granted the request from Stewart-Haas Racing for a waiver for Tony to be eligible to qualify for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. As he begins his final season, we wish Tony the best of luck.”

NASCAR also on Thursday announced it was fining Stewart $35,000 under the section of the rulebook pertaining to “member conduct guidelines”.

According to Section 12.8.1, actions that could result in a $10,000-$50,000 fine include disparaging the sport and/or NASCAR’s leadership, or verbal abuse of a NASCAR Official, media members, fans, etc.

Stewart had issued strong comments about allowing teams to used less that the maximum amount of lugnuts. The three-time Cup champion said the lugnut situation could result in major injuries.

“We shouldn’t be playing games with safety to win races,” Stewart said. “It should be out-performing the other teams, not jeopardizing drivers’ lives by teams putting two lug nuts on to try to get two more spots off pit road.”

The return-to-racing story on the Stewart-Haas website added the following:

Stewart missed the first eight races of the season after sustaining a burst fracture of the L1 vertebra in a Jan. 31 all-terrain vehicle accident. The prescribed rehabilitation regimen instituted by his doctors following a March 9 evaluation proved successful, allowing the three-time series champion to return for his final Sprint Cup season.

“As soon as the doctors said they were happy with my scans, I wasn’t going to wait any longer to get back in my racecar,” said Stewart, who announced last year that he would retire after the 2016 season. “I want to make the most of my last season in Sprint Cup, and I’ve been on the sidelines long enough.”

Following Richmond, Stewart will participate in a Goodyear tire test April 26-27 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He will then practice and qualify his No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series’ next event at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. However, Stewart will only start the race before yielding the car to Ty Dillon, who split substitute driving duties this year with Brian Vickers.

“We’re taking a strategic approach to my return,” Stewart said. “Richmond is a track where I feel very comfortable and because it’s a short track, the speeds are substantially less. The Goodyear test in Indy is sort of a controlled environment, allowing me to get more acclimated with my car at higher speeds. We’ll start the Talladega race to get the points, but understanding the style of racing and the higher potential of getting involved in an incident, we thought it was best to minimize the amount of time I’m in the car. I’ll return fulltime at Kansas and enjoy every moment I can in my final year of Sprint Cup.”

The waiver which Stewart was granted by NASCAR is similar to that granted to Kyle Busch a year ago. Busch went on to win the Cup championship.

Busch, who missed the first 11 games of the 2015 season with broken bones in his legs, was required to win a race and finish in the top 30 in points in order to be entered in the Chase.

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Thursday, April 21 2016
No Comment

Comments are closed.