NASCAR Gives Stewart Exemption For Missing Races After Ward Death

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September 1, 2014 3:08pm PST

The past few weeks have been quite difficult for Tony Stewart, albeit not nearly as difficult as it has been for the Ward family, but it looks like he may be finally coming around. As the tough times have taken a toll on the NASCAR community as a whole, the racing organization is doing its part in effort of smoothing things over.

NASCAR president Mike Helton announced recently, “This has been a very unique set of circumstances to Tony and to our sport. After evaluating the circumstances around this occurrence, we’ve come to the conclusion that Tony would be eligible to participate in the Chase if he were to earn a spot in it.”

According to NASCAR rules and regulations, to be Chase – the big racing cup at the end of the racing year – drivers must participate in all 26 regular season races. Seeing how Stewart missed three races after the death of fellow driver Kevin Ward Jr., he would, under normal circumstances, be disqualified from racing in the Sprint Chase Cup.

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However, because of the extraordinary circumstances that lead to him missing the aforementioned races in the first place, NASCAR has taken it upon themselves to grant Stewart an exemption. Granted, Stewart must, from this point forward, make every single race from here on out leading up to the Chase cup, as well as qualify of course.

There isn’t all that much that could make this a problem for Stewart as he’s already been cleared to races by NASCAR officials. Apparently, before clearing him, these officials spoke with several “third-party experts” who spoke directly on Stewart’s mental and emotional state.

When asked to delve into the matter a bit more, Helton pushed back only assuring the public that they had come to the conclusion, and were more than confident, that Stewart was fit to race. “Our process calls for us to rely on third party experts to assure us that a NASCAR driver or a NASCAR member is ready to return,” Helton relayed. “All those forms of processes were met and we cleared him based on those third party inputs from experts.”

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“NASCAR has been in constant contact with Stewart-Haas Racing. But when it comes to the assurances that a driver or a NASCAR member is ready to return, we’re going to rely on outside experts,” he continued. “We made our decisions based on the circumstances we’ve got currently and I think most everyone in this room understands at NASCAR, our effort, our scope of responsibility and authority is limited to the NASCAR community.”

Helton concluded by noting, “We take the current circumstances that we are dealt with and make what we hope to be the best absolute conclusion. That’s what we’re talking about today, is the current set of circumstances and our reaction to them.”

Although there’s no indication that any incriminating results will derive from it, the Ontario Country investigation is still underway despite Sheriff Povero explaining that it should only take two weeks.

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