Tony Stewart Announces Return From Injury; Will Race Sprint Cup Event At Richmond

(NASCAR Wire Service)

Staff Report ~ NASCAR Wire Service

Tony Stewart (Photo: Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Tony Stewart (Photo: Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images for NASCAR)

With a tweet released at 11 a.m. ET on Thursday morning, Tony Stewart announced that the wait was over, and he would return to racing this weekend at Richmond International Raceway – less than three months after fracturing his back in an all-terrain vehicle accident.

Stewart, who sustained a burst fracture of the L1 vertebra on Jan. 31, made the surprise announcement well earlier than most expected. The three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion missed the first eight races of the 2016 season, which will be Stewart’s final in NASCAR.

“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 September that he would retire following 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.”

Shortly after Stewart’s Twitter announcement, NASCAR released a statement confirming Stewart’s clearance to return, as well as its granting of a waiver for qualification into NASCAR’s playoffs, the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.

“NASCAR received the appropriate medical clearance documentation allowing Tony Stewart to resume normal racing activities,” said Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer. “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.”

To earn a Chase spot, Stewart would have to win a race – something he hasn’t done since June of 2013 – as well as finish the 26-race regular season within the top 30 in points. Matt DiBenedetto currently sits 30th in the driver standings, with 112 points.

Following Richmond, Stewart will participate in a Goodyear tire test April 26-27 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He will then practice, qualify for and start the event at Talladega Superspeedway. Ty Dillon will replace Stewart in the No. 14 after the start of the Talladega race, thereby ensuring Stewart receives points for that event.

Dillon (three races) and Brian Vickers (five) substituted for Stewart this year in the No. 14 Chevrolet, combining for an average finish of 22.0 with one top 10. The No. 14 currently sits 23rd in owner points.

“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.”

Stewart has three wins and 19 top 10s in 33 starts at Richmond, site of Sunday’s Toyota Owners 400 (1 p.m. ET on FOX).


  1. This waiver NASCAR has is b.s. . Look back at what Davey Allison and dale Earnhardt and many more had to do to stay in the championship hunt driving injured. The sport is becoming soft.

  2. Greg Hardy says

    Well, it’s not like he’s going to win a race to make the chase anyways. But I do agree that Tony should not have been given one this year because Tony’s injuries were sustained outside of the racetrack, unlike Kyle Busch last year.

  3. Tony Stewart is a blowhard bully.Oh,I forgot killer.I will be happy when this grumpy,sore losing pumpkin head stays home.

  4. Oh boy! The stands will be overflowing with people now! Ratings will be record breaking!

  5. 450 you sound like a great guy yourself

  6. 450 mike don’t hold back tell us how you really feel

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