NASCAR: Potential Return Date Set For Tony Stewart

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports /

The 2016 NASCAR season has not even begun yet but thus far all of the 2016 headlines belong to Tony Stewart thanks in large part to the accident that is going to sideline him for part of the season. Now it appears as though a return date has potentially been set for Stewart.

When the 2016 NASCAR season begins officially in two weeks at Daytona, it will begin without three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Tony Stewart. Stewart is currently sidelined as he recovers from vertebrae surgery that resulted from a sand dune accident. The loss of Stewart in what is supposed to be his last season in NASCAR is surely devastating to him and his fans alike.

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While it’s still early in the recovery, a recent report from Godfather Motorsports suggests that Stewart is well on his way to recovery. In fact, the report goes as far as offering a potential date in which Stewart could make his return to NASCAR.

"The three-time Sprint Cup Series champion underwent surgery Wednesday to remove dangerous bone fragments from the area of the fracture and stabilize the affected vertebra. While many victims of burst fractures are forced to wear a stabilizing brace for 2-3 months post-op, the procedure performed on Stewart reportedly will not require a brace.In fact, sources say Stewart was on his feet and walking by Friday. Sources close to the situation say that on the advice of his doctors, Stewart and his team have set a tentative return date of May 21, the day of the 2016 NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Stewart is highly unlikely to return earlier than that, and his timeline for return could easily be pushed back, depending on the success of his rehabilitation program."

If Stewart does indeed return at the Sprint All-Star Race or even the race after, it will only allow for more comparisons to be drawn to Kyle Busch and the season that he put together in 2015. Busch was sidelined with a broken leg and foot that he suffered the day prior to the Daytona 500 in an Xfinity Series wreck. Busch would of course return for the Sprint All-Star Race before going onto winning multiple races, making the Chase and eventually winning the 2015 championship.

The news of Stewart missing the start of the season was already pointing some into the hope that he would be able to do what Busch did. If Stewart ends up missing the same number of races (or close to it) it will only further fuel that fire.

While it’s great to want Stewart to succeed, his fans should want him to heal first. Seeing what Busch did in 2015 makes it easy to assume someone with the talent of Stewart can do the same and maybe he can. However, that’s not the most important thing and it certainly shouldn’t be expected. Busch defied a lot of odds last season and those kind of performances are not something that you see in NASCAR or the world of sports on a regular basis.

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If and when Stewart returns to the track, I hope that he is healthy and able to compete at his top level. If that means coming back after missing 11 races, great. If that means coming back after missing 25 races, that’s fine as well in my book.