UPDATE #1 – NASCAR has confirmed that Tony Stewart is still eligible to make the 2014 Chase.
Tony Stewart has come home.
Home not being in the literal sense but instead home referring to his return to NASCAR and racing. After missing the last three races in the wake of the Kevin Ward Jr. tragedy, Stewart announced late Thursday afternoon that he would be returning to the track to race Saturday night in Atlanta. Stewart’s return to the track is a welcome sight for all of his fans and his supporters but more importantly it is the first step of moving forward.
As many of his fans and supporters can attest to; racing is not only a passion for Stewart but it’s his way of life. Stewart has no children and has never been married, in some ways you could say that he is married to his passion of racing. This passion is something that Stewart has taken full advantage of for most of his life as he races every chance that he has. While it was understandable that Stewart needed time away from the track to deal with the emotions from the accident; it must have been hard on him to take himself away from something that he is so passionate about.
Stewart’s return to the track on Saturday night will begin his long healing process. Chances are that Stewart will never fully heal from this but returning to the thing that he loves will help. In the wake of the accident many anti-Stewart fans were calling for NASCAR to ban him from racing or for Stewart to retire. In my opinion both of those decisions would have been detrimental to Stewart and his healing process. Stewart needs to race as it’s a part of who he is. If NASCAR were to take that away or if Stewart were to prematurely force that upon himself it would only do more damage to a person that has more than enough on his plate.
Earlier today Stewart spoke to the media for the first time since that fateful night in Upstate New York. Stewart’s words were somber and full of emotion. It was easy to see in his face and hear in his tone that this accident has taken a toll on him. Although there are still some out there who believe that Stewart had intent when it comes to the accident, I find it hard to believe that anyone could feel that way after watching him speak to the media today.
When Stewart takes the green flag Saturday night it will also mark the second to last race before the start of the chase. Stewart will head into Saturday night within the top-30 in the points. What that means is if he were to win this weekend or next weekend he could still qualify for the 2014 chase. However, this all hinges on whether or not NASCAR would grant him a waiver for the three races that he missed over the last couple of weeks.
For those of you that may think Stewart has no shot of winning the chase even if he did make it, I would encourage you to please remember the way in which he won his third NASCAR championship.
Chase prospects aside, the bottom line is that it will be a welcomed sight to see Stewart behind the wheel come Saturday night. Be sure to follow along with BTF for all of the latest updates in regards to Stewart as well as full coverage of NASCAR qualifying.