Stewart Eligible For Chase
By: Dustin Long - @dustinlong
NASCAR stated Friday that Tony Stewart would be granted a waiver for the Chase should he win at Atlanta or Richmond. (Photo: Getty Images)
HAMPTON, Ga. - NASCAR President Mike Helton said Tony Stewart would be granted a waver to make the Chase for the Sprint Cup should Stewart win this weekend at Atlanta or next weekend at Richmond.
A driver can earn a spot in the 16-team Chase by winning a race provided they are in the top 30 in driver points and they attempt to qualify for each event. Stewart did not attempt to qualify the past two weekends at Michigan and Bristol and would not have been eligible without a waver. Stewart is too far back to make the Chase via points.
Helton also explained that series officials relied on “third-party experts to assure us that a NASCAR driver or a NASCAR member is ready to return. All those forms of process were met and we cleared him.’’
Asked if those were psychological professionals, Helton would only say: “the ones that were relevant to these circumstances.
“I think particularly those of us that follow this sport every weekend know that driver's healing processes are unique, but they are racecar drivers, and a lot of times getting back in a racecar is something they shoot to do as quickly as they can.
“Once Tony decided to come back, we then had to go through the policies and the procedures and the steps that we've historically built over time to make the absolute most correct decision we could make under the circumstances we were handed.
As Helton spoke, the Ontario County (N.Y.) Sheriff’s Department announced that the investigation into the Aug. 9 incident between Tony Stewart and Kevin Ward Jr. at Canandaigua Motorsports Park would “continue for at least another two weeks.’’
Helton was asked how NASCAR weighed that an investigation was ongoing in clearing Stewart to return to racing.
“We made our decisions based on the circumstances we've got currently,’‘ Helton said. “And I think most everyone in this room understands at NASCAR, our effort, our scope of responsibility and authority is limited to the NASCAR community.
“We take the current circumstances that we are dealt with and make what we hope to be the best absolute conclusion. That's what we're talking about today, is the current set of circumstances and our reaction to them.’’