NASCAR champion Tony Stewart will be back in the No. 14 Chevy SS in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Stewart has not been seen, nor has he raced since an incident during a sprint car race in New York State on Aug 9.The Stewart-Hass Racing team issued a statement via Twitter Thursday confirming that Stewart will be racing this weekend:
“Tony Stewart has decided to return to racing this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton Georgia. The Aug. 31 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at the 1.54-mile oval will mark Stewart’s first start since Aug. 3. at Pocono (PA) Raceway.”
Stewart was involved in the incident at Canandiagua Motorsports Park in upstate New York. In the aftermath 20-year-old, Kevin Ward Jr. was dead. Video showed that Ward had been involved with Stewart on the previous lap. The video showed Ward’s car as it came to rest on the back stretch. Ward exited the vehicle, and still wearing his racing helmet walked toward the line of cars circling under caution. He angrily pointed towards the car driven by Stewart; Stewart’s car struck Ward who was thrown in the air and landed several feet away. Ward was later pronounced dead at a local hospital.
That Sunday morning Stewart announced he would not participate in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Watkins Glen. He later issued a statement expressing his sadness. Late that same afternoon Sheriff Philip Povero held a press conference and said the investigation was not a criminal one.
The following week Stewart announced that he would sit out the Michigan race. Burton subbed for Stewart and defended him after the race. Burton also subbed for Stewart in last week’s event at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Thursday NASCAR announced that Stewart had been cleared to participate this weekend. Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer issued a statement via email Thursday afternoon:
“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. NASCAR has remained in constant contact with his race team, and we will stay very close to this situation as Stewart returns to competition.”