The moment that so many have been waiting for has come to pass – Tony Stewart’s return to the NASCAR races after hitting and killing fellow driver Kevin Ward Junior. Upon making his way around the track after having been gone for so long, he was given what many have since deemed, a hero’s welcome.
Despite much controversy still looming overhead the racing mogul, Stewart finally declared enough is enough and announced he would be racing this past weekend. Although he mentioned his sorrow for the Ward family and conveyed that words couldn’t describe the amount of anguish they’re undoubtedly feeling, he did say that returning to the races is just something he needed to do.
“This is a sadness and a pain I hope no one has to experience,” Stewart relayed. “I’ve taken the last couple of weeks off out of respect for Kevin and his family and also to cope with the accident in my own way.” Ultimaltey however, Stewart concluded by saying, “It’s given me the time to think about life and how easy it is to take it for granted. I miss my team, my teammates and I miss being back in the race car, and I think being back in the car this week with my racing family will help me get through this difficult time.”
The following day, after making his way to the track during driver announcements, he was met with quite the applause that was so loud, it even drowned out the public address announcer that was talking over the speaker.
Although many people were more than ecstatic regarding his arrival, Stewart’s race didn’t quite go exactly how he’d hoped. On lap 122 things started to take a turn for Stewart as Kyle Busch’s No. 18 car lost control, spun out and took both he and Stewart’s car into the wall.
“We just got run over big-time!”’ Stewart said over the radio. “I hit the wall pretty hard there.” Although Stewart was able to recover, he dropped back to position 22. Just a short while, about 50 laps, later, Stewart had another brush up against the barrier popping a tire and ultimately ending his race.
Crew chief Chad Johnston made that notion definitive when he said, “No way to fix it here.” According to the NY Daily Mail, “His night was done 172 laps into a 500-lap race.” Was it too soon for Stewart to return to the races or are these kinds of unfortunate incidents just something that comes with the job?