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Tony Stewart to return to race at Atlanta this weekend

Aug 28, 2014, 4:38 PM EDT

After missing the last three NASCAR Sprint Cup races following the tragic accident that claimed the life of 20-year-old sprint car driver Kevin Ward Jr. at an upstate New York dirt track, NASCAR star Tony Stewart will return to NASCAR Sprint Cup racing this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Stewart-Haas Racing officials announced that development at 4:30 pm ET in a distributed media release. There were no comments from Stewart in the media release.

NASCAR officials subsequently confirmed the news.

“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,” said Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer. “NASCAR has remained in constant contact with his race team, and we will stay very close to this situation as Stewart returns to competition.”

Stewart will hold a press conference at 1 pm ET at the AMS infield media center where he is expected to discuss his return and all of the things he has gone through since Ward was killed in an August 9 dirt track race at Canandaigua (N.Y.) Motorsports Park.

Stewart will be joined in the press conference by SHR executive vice president Brett Frood.

MORECould Tony Stewart return to race this weekend at Atlanta?

NASCAR president Mike Helton will also hold a press conference one hour after Stewart’s at 2 pm ET, also in the AMS Media Center. The sanctioning body said in a media release Thursday afternoon that it would have no further comment until Helton’s media session.

The official report on the Ward tragedy has yet to be released by Ontario County (N.Y.) sheriff’s investigators, although that is expected to occur soon, perhaps as early as Friday.

Stewart has long and deep ties to Atlanta Motor Speedway, which has been one of his more successful racetracks. In 26 career Sprint Cup starts at the 1.5-mile, high-speed AMS, Stewart has three wins, 10 top-5 and 15 top-10 finishes.

While NASCAR rules for the expanded Chase for the Sprint Cup require drivers to have qualified for all 26 pre-Chase races and be in the top-30 in points, reported Thursday afternoon that Stewart, who is 26th in points, could potentially still make the upcoming Chase. About the only way he could do so, though, would be to win at Atlanta or the final pre-Chase race next Saturday at Richmond.

He would also have to petition for and receive a waiver from NASCAR officials, provided he remains in the top 30 in points.

Sunday’s Sprint Cup race will be the first for Stewart since Aug. 3 at Pocono Raceway.

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  1. kralnor - Aug 28, 2014 at 4:59 PM

    Ha, and I assumed he was missing races because he was under arrest. So he was just giving up 3 potential pay checks out of respect for the guy he killed? Classy kind of

  2. techmeister1 - Aug 28, 2014 at 5:00 PM

    Hope Tony’s head is in the game as he’s been under a lot of grief and emotion which I’m sure will continue for years. No matter what the facts are some folks will maintain their uninformed opinions and hate.

    • jxegh - Aug 28, 2014 at 5:17 PM

      That’s my point – the investigation is not complete yet. We don’t know what the facts are so no matter what side of the fence you’re on, nobody is absolutely sure what happened.

  3. jxegh - Aug 28, 2014 at 5:08 PM

    He should have remained off the track until the final reports on his accident with Ward Jr. are released.

  4. exsane - Aug 28, 2014 at 5:12 PM

    I agree. I feel for all of what has happened. But I think tony should have either Waited for the official police reports to be released or wait until next season.

  5. barrylibby - Aug 28, 2014 at 5:14 PM

    Of course they might be ,as an indication was given in article that might happen.

    The strange part of this is why a NASCAR conference?
    Oh I forgot concern for pocketbook.

  6. safaber3 - Aug 28, 2014 at 5:15 PM

    Atlanta is a good place for him to return to racing. Sponsor’s home, good record at AMS and it is time. The best way to move on from something tragic is to get back in the car. I am sure he will be welcomed by all at the track.

    Staying out of the car was a classy move on his part out of respect. I am sure this is not over yet with the Ward family, but Tony will have to work those emotions and financials out. It will be good to see him back.

  7. techmeister1 - Aug 28, 2014 at 5:24 PM

    I personally see no reason for Stewart to wait for anything other than his own comfort level. There is an extremely high probability he is not culpable in any fashion for the unfortunate death of Kevin Ward Jr. That being the case it may be better for him and everyone else that he gets back in the car and focuses on moving forward after this tragedy. Every person handles grief differently and it’s really difficult when an innocent racer is accused by many uninformed people of killing another racer. No matter what the experts report on the incident, many lives including Stewarts are scarred forever.

    • chaparral2f - Aug 28, 2014 at 6:15 PM

      Best post I have read here. Thank you for a breath of fresh air and sanity!

  8. dalejunebugfan - Aug 28, 2014 at 5:44 PM

    Beyond #OUTRAGED. Bloodthirsty thoughts and prayers real NASCAR fans Torch #14 hauler and Lynch Stewart, String-Him-Up like Mussolini!

    Justice and Revenge for Killing Kevin Ward Jr. RIP

    • chaparral2f - Aug 28, 2014 at 6:14 PM

      You worthless piece of human garbage ought to just shut up. I am sick of people like you. People like you are the reason the world is going to hell in a handbasket. I suppose you would have been rioting in Ferguson, Missouri as well even if the evidence is not there. For my part, I demand justice against thugs like yourself and hope that you get what you are hoping for against Tony. Such people….

    • smokinaces69 - Aug 28, 2014 at 11:06 PM

      I’m sure their is a rope around your house, use it and end your outrage moron..!!!

    • florida727 - Aug 29, 2014 at 2:08 PM

      ‘dalejunebugfan’, hate to say it, but you’re an idiot. Killing someone means you intended for it to happen and had Ward not gotten out of his car IN ANGER to confront Stewart, he’d still be alive today. You’re one of those people that doesn’t believe in accountability for one’s own actions, aren’t you?

      I feel most sorry for his family. How would you like to spend the rest of your life knowing that your son didn’t die doing what he loved, he died because he was ANGRY?

  9. convincedofthehex - Aug 28, 2014 at 6:06 PM

    So that means at 1 PM the NASCAR media will commence the ceremonial washing of Tony’s onions.

  10. chaparral2f - Aug 28, 2014 at 6:12 PM

    Good, I am glad that Tony is going to race again. Nothing can bring back Kevin Ward, but life goes on. Tony may have to face a civil case and a payout to the Ward family [not that money compensates for a life], but not racing is not helping Tony, his team or his fans. I personally do not see Tony as culpable in any way regarding the tragic death of Kevin. It is like racing incidents that just happen. Wrong place at the wrong time. I never have been a fan of Tony, but after this, I am behind him 100% and may become a supporter of his in the future. Go team #14!

  11. charger383 - Aug 28, 2014 at 6:32 PM

    Glad he is back

  12. safaber3 - Aug 28, 2014 at 6:58 PM

    Obviously, judging from the number of thumbs up and thumbs down, there are different sides of this issue. For Tony to sit and not race will not help him get past this or help the Ward family after they ask for a few bucks for damages in a civil suit. Tony needs to race for himself and to make a living. Tony and the Wards will have the scars of that night, which nothing can replace Kevin’s life. Let Tony get back to racing and let the Ward family move on to the next chapter in their lives. Neither party will ever be the same.

  13. donall108 - Aug 28, 2014 at 7:07 PM

    All you wannabe know it alls are just wasting your time with your hateful comments! Why? Because Tony has 100% support from 100% of the people who know and work with him! Through all of this sensationalized negativity,Tony has chosen to take the high road in this whole tragedy. Yes,that is what happened,an accident and a tragedy! There is not one single shred of evidence that Tony has done anything other than conduct himself like the champion he is. For the rest of you haters,you will jut have to live with being an liberal media puppet with no brain. Believing the news stories does not make you any smarter,just manipulated.

  14. stagedoorjohnny - Aug 28, 2014 at 8:56 PM

    Absolutely reprehensible.
    Mr. Stewart – wait on the investigation to be fully completed and then ask Mr. Ward’s family about their input.
    For now, Mr. Stewart – to race again while Mr. Ward’s family is still in mourning and the dirt covering his grave hasn’t even settled in yet is a shame to any involved in NASCAR.

  15. ballsoharduniversity52 - Aug 28, 2014 at 11:26 PM

    This guy is such a creep- can tell by just looking at him. Scum of the earth.

    • jacoby66forhof - Aug 29, 2014 at 6:54 AM

      A lot of comments from the cheap seats on this decision. A decision most negative commenters on here will never have to make in their lives.

      Ain’t the internet great?

  16. dalejunebugfan - Aug 29, 2014 at 10:12 AM

    We all agree there is 1 positive about Stewart returning to the track:

    The other 42 drivers know that Stewart is weak and easy pickings. Now they can rough-him-up, chop #14, run him high or low, never give him a break, even intentionally dump him, knowing full-well that there is nothing Stewart can do about it.

    Since killing Kevin Ward Jr. in a obvious act of retaliation, Stewart can never again retaliate.

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