Stewart to Return at Atlanta
By: Pete Pistone - @PPistone | MRN.com on August 28, 2014 | 4:34 P.M. EST
Stewart will be back behind the wheel of the No. 14 Chevrolet at Atlanta. (Photo: Getty Images)
Tony Stewart will return to Sprint Cup Series racing this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway after missing the last three events.
Stewart-Haas Racing announced Stewart’s intentions late Thursday afternoon.
He sat out races at Watkins Glen International, Michigan International Speedway and Bristol Motor Speedway following the sprint car accident Aug. 9 that took the life of driver Kevin Ward Jr. during a feature race at New York State’s Canandaigua Motorsports Park.
Regan Smith filled in for Stewart at "The Glen" while veteran Jeff Burton piloted the No. 14 Chevrolet the last two weekends in Michigan and Bristol - where he finished 37th and 15th, respectively.
At 1 p.m. (ET) on Friday in the infield media center at AMS, Stewart will be available to the press, where Stewart-Haas Racing Executive Vice President Brett Frood will join him. It will mark Stewart’s first public appearance and comments since the accident.
NASCAR is also expected to address whether Stewart would receive a waiver regarding his eligibility for the Chase should he win one of the remaining two races in the regular season, at Atlanta or Richmond International Raceway. This year’s new Chase rules require drivers to remain in the top 30 of the point standings while attempting to qualify for every race in order to be eligible.
Steve O'Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer, issued a statement regarding Stewart's return:
"Tony Stewart has received all necessary clearances required to return to all racing activities, and therefore is eligible to compete this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway. NASCAR has remained in constant contact with his race team and we will stay very close to this situation as Stewart returns to competition."
Mobil 1 is listed as the sponsor of Stewart’s Chevrolet for the weekend.
The investigation of the accident that took Ward’s life is ongoing by the Ontario County Sheriff’s Office, and there is no clear date as to when it will be finalized and considered complete.