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What’s next for Tony Stewart, business-wise?

Aug 11, 2014, 10:00 AM EDT

Coca-Cola 600 - Practice Getty Images

The personal impact of what will happen to Tony Stewart, and how he recovers after the accident at Canandaigua (N.Y.) Motorsports Park, will be interesting to watch.

Additionally, Stewart has a number of vested business interests that could be impacted as well, depending on the outcome of the legal investigation in Ontario County (N.Y.) (see court case here).

In the short-term, Stewart has four more races to make the 2014 Chase for the Sprint Cup. He’s winless since Dover in June 2013; this year, he stands a winless 21st in points and will have to win at least once to be among the 16 drivers in NASCAR’s new for 2014 Chase grid.

[MORE: Stewart's driving status for weekend is TBD]

Sponsors live and breathe with teams whether their driver makes the Chase; there can be financial incentives in play for making it. Stewart-Haas Racing will have at least two cars, Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch, in the field of 16 thanks to their wins earlier this year. But Stewart’s presence would ensure the team hit its preseason target of getting three of the four SHR cars in the Chase (Danica Patrick aside).

Realistically though, that’s the least of Stewart’s concerns. In the longer term, Stewart’s livelihood and those of the hundreds of families he employs could be at stake (more here from NBCSN contributor Nate Ryan for USA Today).

The legal story will continue, as the investigation into what precisely happened Saturday night beyond witness reports and a YouTube video (we’re not going to link to it out of respect) continues in New York.

The sponsors Stewart has managed to put together for his and Gene Haas’ Stewart-Haas Racing empire, and for the dirt track he owns – Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio – all have to take another step back and say, is this someone we want to be affiliated with?

NAPA pulled out of the Cup level after a mere race-fixing scandal last year. Does Bass Pro Shops, Mobil 1 or anyone else want to look at Stewart and say they don’t want to get dragged through the mud throughout this process?

The sponsor impact is where the families come into play. SHR has gone from also-ran to a top-flight NASCAR championship winning team in five seasons since Stewart and Haas joined forces ahead of the 2009 season.

[MORE: Sheriff says no evidence of criminal intent from Tony Stewart at this time]

It has a four-car operation and if there are any sponsor withdrawals, or scaling back, that will force the team to find new ones to keep all four cars in operation. This would undoubtedly be a tougher task now than 48 hours ago.

The outcome of this process could also have a financial impact on short tracks around the country, where Stewart’s presence could enhance their business. When a megastar like Stewart opts to moonlight at these one-off dirt race events, it generally provides a boost in ticket sales as one of NASCAR’s biggest stars races against local heroes.

But now there will be hard choices – there have to be. The contact between Stewart and Kevin Ward Jr. will have enduring ripple effects that not only affect the individuals, but the bottom line.

  1. hollywood2311 - Aug 11, 2014 at 10:54 AM

    “Does Bass Pro Shops, Mobil 1 or anyone else want to look at Stewart and say they don’t want to get dragged through the mud throughout this process?”

    Wow. I know that’s probably unintentional, but I had to chuckle. I’ll see you all in hell :-)

  2. techmeister1 - Aug 11, 2014 at 1:20 PM

    I don’t know how this tragedy will play out for Stewart in his personal or professional life but I do know that the tragedy was the result of Kevin Ward making bad choices. Had he stayed in his car he’d be alive today.

    Even though Stewart is likely to be found NOT responsible for the death of Kevin Ward, Stewarts life is scarred forever just as if a driver hits and kills a pedestrian who runs out in front of their moving car. Stewart has to live with the memories of this tragedy everyday of his life. He has to live with those who are quick to judge without the facts or with total disregard for the facts. No matter what Steward does he can never undue this tragedy that was not of his doing.

    Certainly everyone in motorsports including the sponsors know this is a terrible tragedy and no reflection on Stewart or his businesses. Those who know Stewart personally know this was a tragic accident and nothing more. That won’t heal the pain that Stewart must live with however.

    No one can feel anything but complete sympathy for Kevin, his family and friends. This nice young man is dead because he made several fatal mistakes. There is no way to possibly console his family and friends. Stewart said it best that there are no words to express the pain and suffering for all involved in this tragedy. Let’s hope that some good comes from this tragedy and that in the future when racers are upset over being wrecked, they wait until they are in the pits to discuss it with the other driver. Nothing Kevin could have said or done would have changed the incident so it’s better to keep your cool and be alive to race next week.

    RIP Kevin!

  3. barrylibby - Aug 11, 2014 at 1:21 PM

    The same people furthering this talk are the same as the ones who cheer when some
    drugged up tattooed basketball player or baseball player exits rehab and returns in their
    Nike $200 dollar a pair sneakers!

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