Tony Stewart will be eligible for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship should he gain entry by virtue of a win, at the 2 remaining tracks Atlanta Motor Speedway on Sunday night or at Richmond International Raceway the regular season finale before the Chase drivers are set.
NASCAR president Mike Helton, after welcoming Tony back, saying he (Stewart) has been a great asset to NASCAR and a great champion, said during Friday’s press conference, “It’s simply if Tony were able to earn a spot in the Chase, our decision is currently yes.”
“This has been a very unique set of circumstances to Tony and our sport,” Helton said.
Stewart will be back on the track for the first time, after having missed three consecutive races, since the Aug. 9 fatally in upstate New York. Kevin Ward Jr. was struck and killed by Stewart’s car as he walked on the track under caution after getting spun-out to confront the three time NASCAR champion.
Helton said that NASCAR had reached out to outside experts and to whom Helton called ‘the ones that we felt were relevant under the circumstances’ to help determine if Stewart was mentally fit to be behind the wheel.
A visibly shaken Stewart, who had read a statement earlier Friday afternoon, said; “This has been one of the toughest tragedies I’ve ever had to deal with, both professionally and personally. This is a sadness and a pain, I hope no one has to experience in their life. That being said, I know that the pain and mourning that Kevin Ward’s family and friend are experiencing is something that I can’t possible imagine.”
Stewart did not answer questions about the incident as Stewart remains under investigation in the Aug. 9 crash.