Skip to content

Tony Stewart update: ‘When he’s ready to get in the car, he’ll be in there’

Aug 15, 2014, 10:56 AM EDT

(Photo: Sarah Glenn/Getty Images) Getty Images

Tony Stewart will not get back in a race car until he’s ready and will make that decision solely himself, Stewart-Haas Racing executive vice president Brett Frood said during a Friday morning press conference at Michigan International Speedway.

Stewart will miss a second straight NASCAR Sprint Cup event after the tragic accident last Saturday in a sprint car race in upstate New York that resulted in the death of a fellow racer, 20-year-old Kevin Ward Jr.

“This decision (not to race this weekend) was Tony’s,” Frood said. “It’s been an emotional week for him. He’s grieving.

“He made the decision he’s not ready to get in the race car. We’ll take it week by week. It’s going to be up to Tony when he’s ready to get back into the car.”

Nationwide Series driver Regan Smith was a last-minute replacement for Stewart in last Sunday’s race at Watkins Glen. This weekend’s race at Michigan will see veteran Sprint Cup driver Jeff Burton driving Stewart’s No. 14 Chevrolet.

There has been no further discussion of Burton or any other driver filling in for Stewart in the next race (Bristol, next Saturday night) or beyond.

“Jeff will be the driver this weekend in Michigan,” Frood said. “We have not discussed any other races. We’ll talk to Tony. When he’s ready to get in the car, he’ll be in there, and we’ll go from there.”

SHR vice president of competition Greg Zipadelli approached Burton on Wednesday to see if he’d be willing to fill in for Stewart, if necessary.

“Greg reached out to me Wednesday morning to ask if I was interested; that started the process,” Burton said. “It was like just in case Tony decides (not to race), we didn’t know.”

Burton, who will become a full-time analyst for NASCAR on NBC next season, hopes to bring a calming and stabilizing force to the team, which is also grieving over last Saturday’s tragic accident.

“My role is hopefully to provide a little stability, give that team a chance to have the most success they can have in a very difficult situation,” Burton said. “Hopefully me being here in some kind of way, I can help find a way for a healing process start.

“I don’t know how that is, but that would be my ultimate goal for everybody. Obviously, it’s an awkward situation for everybody, but there’s a lot of people at Stewart-Haas Racing that work real hard and deserve 100 percent effort from me, and that’s what they’re going to get.”

On other fronts, Frood had the following to say:

* Where Stewart is currently: “Tony’s surrounded right now by his closest friends and family. We’re obviously in contact with him. His location is of a private nature right now.”

* The reaction of Stewart’s sponsors: “From a sponsor standpoint, we’ve got the greatest sponsors in the world. They’re very caring, they understand it’s an emotional time, there’s much sympathy for the family of the young man and they care for Tony. We’ve had a great deal of support from our sponsors.”

* This weekend’s task at hand: “As far as getting ready for this weekend, the task at hand for Greg and the rest of our crew is to prepare four cars for our drivers and figure out how to win this weekend at Michigan.”

* Stewart’s chances of making the Chase for the Sprint Cup will effectively end this weekend because NASCAR rules specify a driver must qualify for all pre-Chase races to be eligible for the playoffs. While Stewart qualified at Watkins Glen before the tragic accident, he will not qualify at Michigan.

“I’ll be honest, the Chase is of the lowest priority as it relates to Tony right now,” Frood said. “As far as the Chase, the only care I have this weekend is getting Danica (Patrick) into the Chase.

“Right now, it’s about getting Tony in a better place than he is right now. And when he’s ready to do that, he’ll get back in the car. We don’t care about the Chase (for him).”

* On media hysteria and inaccurate reporting: “We certainly understand the media has a job to do. And while there may be some irresponsible reporting, right now the focus should be on the family that’s grieving. And there’s been some focus that hasn’t been there. I’m quite certain that when we get through this that everyone will get the story from the key parties.”

* Whether this tragedy has affected the stability of SHR: “Absolutely not.”

* On how Stewart is holding up: “It’s been an emotional week for him. He’s grieving. Any time someone is lost, especially at a race track, it’s tragic. It was a tragic accident and he’s dealing with quite a bit of grief.”

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

Latest Posts
  1. GP2: Pierre Gasly claims first pole position at Monza

    Sep 4, 2015, 5:00 PM EDT

    © GP2 Series © GP2 Series

    Gasly storms to pole ahead of Mitch Evans and Stoffel Vandoorne as American driver Alexander Rossi struggles to P10 on the grid.

  2. Ecclestone confident Vettel will be champion with Ferrari

    Sep 4, 2015, 4:00 PM EDT

    xxxx during qualifying for the Formula One Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone Circuit on July 4, 2015 in Northampton, England. Getty Images

    Ecclestone backs Vettel to win a fifth world championship during his time with Ferrari.

  3. Boullier: McLaren intends to keep Button for 2016

    Sep 4, 2015, 3:00 PM EDT

    McLaren Honda's British driver Jenson Button walks in the paddock before the British Formula One Grand Prix at the Silverstone circuit in Silverstone on July 5, 2015.       AFP PHOTO / ANDREJ ISAKOVIC        (Photo credit should read ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Despite having four capable drivers and just two seats, Eric Boullier has a bold plan for 2016.

  4. Vettel relishing first Italian GP in Ferrari colors

    Sep 4, 2015, 2:00 PM EDT

    Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany smiles during a news conference at the Monza racetrack, in Monza, Italy , Thursday, Sept. 3 , 2015. The Formula one race will be held on Sunday. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni) AP

    After being the enemy for the Ferrari fans in the past at Monza, Vettel will now carry their hopes of a home win on his shoulders.

  5. Hamilton sure he can go quicker still after Monza practice

    Sep 4, 2015, 1:00 PM EDT

    Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain steers this car during the second free practice at the Monza racetrack,  Italy , Friday, Sept. 4 , 2015. The Formula one race will be held on Sunday. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno) AP

    Despite finishing well clear of the chasing pack on Friday in practice, Hamilton believes he can go faster still.

  6. Drivers run with tributes to Justin Wilson in Italian GP practice at Monza

    Sep 4, 2015, 12:00 PM EDT

    Germany's Sebastian Vettel sits in the cockpit of his Ferrari during the first free practice session of the Monza racetrack, Italy , Friday, Sept. 4 , 2015. Each of the 20 drivers sported stickers on their helmets in tribute to Justin Wilson, the 37 year old Briton who was killed last month in an Indy car race in Pennsylvania. (AP Photo/Alessandro Trovati) AP

    Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button among those running with a sticker paying tribute to Wilson on their helmets at Monza.

  7. WATCH: IndyCar Awards Show tonight at 11:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN

    Sep 4, 2015, 11:30 AM EDT

    © INDYCAR © INDYCAR

    IndyCar’s season recap airs tonight at 11:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

  8. F1 Paddock Pass: Italian Grand Prix (VIDEO)

    Sep 4, 2015, 10:59 AM EDT

    Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany, left, signs autographs at the Monza racetrack, in Monza, Italy, Thursday, Sept. 3 , 2015. The Formula one race will be held on Sunday. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno) AP

    Will Buxton brings you the latest news, interviews and insight from the paddock ahead of this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix.

  9. F1 paddock reacts to idea of racing with closed or semi-enclosed cockpits (VIDEO)

    Sep 4, 2015, 10:26 AM EDT

    AP AP

    F1 drivers react to idea of closed cockpits possibly being introduced down the road.

  10. Off The Grid: Silverstone preview (premieres 9/5 at 9:30am ET on NBCSN)

    Sep 4, 2015, 10:11 AM EDT

    NORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JULY 05:  Fans of Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP fly flags as they show their support for him afterhis victory in the Formula One Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone Circuit on July 5, 2015 in Northampton, England.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Will Buxton and Jason Swales head to Silverstone to give you a behind-the-scenes look at the British Grand Prix in the latest episode of Off The Grid.

  11. U.K. funeral arrangements for Justin Wilson announced; U.S. one details to come

    Sep 4, 2015, 9:58 AM EDT

    AP AP

    First round of funeral details for Justin Wilson have been confirmed.

  12. Hamilton quickest again in second Italian GP practice

    Sep 4, 2015, 9:31 AM EDT

    Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain leads his teammate Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg of Germany during the second free practice at the Monza racetrack,  Italy , Friday, Sept. 4 , 2015. The Formula one race will be held on Sunday. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno) AP

    Mercedes romps to another one-two finish in FP2 as the rest of the field is left trailing behind.

  13. Jota Sport to race full FIA WEC season in 2016

    Sep 4, 2015, 8:45 AM EDT

    © Jota Sport © Jota Sport

    Jota Sport confirms it will expand its LMP2 programme for 2016 to compete in the full WEC season.

  14. WATCH LIVE: FP2 for the Italian Grand Prix on NBCSN and Live Extra from 8am ET

    Sep 4, 2015, 7:45 AM EDT

    Britain driver Lewis Hamilton steers his Mercedes during the first practice session at the Monza racetrack, Italy, Friday, Sept. 4, 2015. The Formula One race will be held on Sunday. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni) AP

    Lewis Hamilton will be hoping to double up in FP2 after topping first practice on Friday morning.

  15. Hamilton leads Mercedes one-two in Italian GP FP1

    Sep 4, 2015, 5:31 AM EDT

    Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain steers his car during the first free practice at the Monza racetrack, Italy, Friday, Sept. 4 , 2015. The Formula one race will be held on Sunday. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno) AP

    Hamilton finishes half a second clear of Rosberg to top FP1 on Friday.

  16. WATCH LIVE: FP1 for the Italian Grand Prix on Live Extra from 4am ET

    Sep 4, 2015, 3:45 AM EDT

    Technicians test a pit stop on a Ferrari car at the Monza racetrack, in Monza, Italy , Thursday, Sept. 3 , 2015. The Formula one race will be held on Sunday. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno) AP

    The Italian GP weekend kicks off with FP1 at 4am ET on Friday.

  17. NHRA: All you need to know about the 61st U.S. Nationals

    Sep 3, 2015, 6:55 PM EDT

    u.s. nationals logo

    Here’s all the information you need to know about this weekend’s 61st annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway in suburban Indianapolis:

  18. NHRA: Year’s biggest race, the U.S. Nationals, ready to roll

    Sep 3, 2015, 6:54 PM EDT

    nhra logo

    The biggest and most important drag race of the season takes place this weekend with the 61st Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway in suburban Indianapolis.

  19. GP3 unveils new car for 2016 season at Monza

    Sep 3, 2015, 3:27 PM EDT

    © GP3 Series © GP3 Series

    The GP3/16 breaks cover at Monza ahead of its introduction next year.

  20. Mercedes uses remaining development tokens to upgrade power units

    Sep 3, 2015, 2:39 PM EDT

    A track marshal waves the checkered flag as Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team's British driver Lewis Hamilton crosses the finish line to win the Belgian Formula One Grand Prix at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Sunday Aug. 23, 2015. (Andrej Isakovic/Pool photo via AP) AP

    Mercedes goes all-in ahead of this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix, fully upgrading the power units on both of its cars.