Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Chevrolet, will make his return to Sprint Cup racing this weekend at Richmond International Raceway. Stewart has been sidelined from injuries sustained in an all-terrain vehicle accident on January 31st, but recent scans show significant progress for the three-time champion to return for his final season of Cup activity.
“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. I want to make the most of my last season in Sprint Cup, and I’ve been on the sidelines long enough.” Stewart said of his return.
In an effort to reduce the chance of another injury, Tony Stewart will only start on May 1, 2016 to receive points for the Geico 500 at Talladega Superspeedway. Ty Dillon will be Stewart’s relief driver for the event where Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats will sponsor the No. 14 Chevrolet.
“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.”
In addition to clearing Stewart for racing competition, NASCAR has granted a waiver request to compete in the 2016 Chase for the Sprint Cup. He must win a race and be in the top 30 in points to qualify for one of the sixteen spots.
“NASCAR received the appropriate medical clearance documentation allowing Tony Stewart to resume normal racing activities,” NASCAR Vice President Steve O’Donnell said, “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.”
Stewart won his first career Cup victory at Richmond on September 11, 1999. He holds two additional Cup victories, 11 top-5s, and 19 top-10s.