Tony Stewart Cleared to Race and Will Be Eligible to Earn a Spot In the Chase
In 2013, Stewart's love for sprint car racing took a traumatic turn when the three-time champ broke his right leg in an accident. On Aug. 5, the day after the Pocono race, Stewart was leading in a sprint car race at Southern Iowa Speedway in Oskaloosa, Iowa, when he was involved in a multi-car crash when a lapped car spun in front of him. Stewart broke both the tibia and fibula bones in his lower right leg in the accident. Stewart's amazing streak of 521 consecutive Sprint Cup starts, dating back to the 1999 Daytona 500, ended.
One of Smokes’ most recent success comes in the form as the car owner of 2014 Sprint Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick. Harvick signed onto Stewart-Haas Racing for the start of the 2014 season. After five wins that year, including a victory in the championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway, the No. 4 driver brought SHR its second Sprint Cup championship.
On Sept. 30, 2015, Stewart announced that 2016 would be his final full-time season in the Sprint Cup Series and that Clint Bowyer would take over piloting the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet in 2017.
On Feb. 2, 2016, a Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) spokesperson announced that co-owner and driver Stewart was involved in an all-terrain vehicle accident on the West Coast. He was transferred to a hospital in an undisclosed location and able to move all of his extremities.
Two days later SHR released a statement saying Stewart sustained a burst fracture of the L1 vertebra and will miss the beginning of the 2016 Sprint Cup season. Stewart missing the first eight races in this 2016 season.
Hilariously, after Tony Stewart's announcement that he was cleared to return to Sprint Cup Series competition this weekend, NASCAR followed-up quickly by fining Stewart-Haas Racing driver and co-owner Tony Stewart $35,000 for violations of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Rule Book, the sanctioning body announced Thursday. Basically, the two time champion had made “disparaging” remarks about the series’ new lug nut rule*.
Surprisingly, the newly formed NASCAR Drivers Council's not only disagreed with the punishment; they solidified their solidarity. Within hours, the nine-person council produced a statement that it intended to pay Stewart's fine.
"When Tony informed us of the fine, we didn't agree with it. No one agreed with it and we thought there's something we should do about it," Hamlin said Friday at Richmond International Raceway. "I think it was a way for us to send a message back to NASCAR -- not that we were trying to send any specific message, but that, hey, we just believe we should have the right to speak our opinion."
Drama, Drama, Drama – it is never boring when Smoke races and NASCAR Race Mom loves it. Also praise to the NASCAR Drivers Council for stepping up to the plate and standing up for the right of competitors’ to express their opinion. Veteran drivers, like Tony, have earned the right to share their insight with the fans. Now let’s get back to racing and see if Tony can win a race and be in the top-thirty for a chance at another driver’s championship.
Tony's Personal Fun Facts:
- Birth date: May 20, 1971
- Birth place: Columbus, Indiana
- Birth name: Anthony Wayne Stewart
- Father: Nelson Stewart
- Mother: Pam Stewart (now Boas)
- Three-time Sprint Cup Series champion (2002, 2005, 2011).
- Owns Eldora Speedway, a dirt race track near New Weston, Ohio.
- Owner of Tony Stewart Racing (TSR).
- Earned the nickname "Smoke" because that's what other drivers saw coming from his tires as he steered through turns on asphalt tracks. He is also referred to as the "Rushville Rocket," "Tony the Tiger," "The Columbus Comet" and "Big Orange."
Photos, Research, Text from nascar.com