Tony Stewart returns to NASCAR, will race in Richmond

Posted at 11:14 AM, Apr 21, 2016

RICHMOND, Va. — NASCAR champion Tony Stewart will return to the track and race at the Toyota Owners 400 Sunday in Richmond. The three-time Sprint Cup champion made the announcement via Twitter Thursday.

“Well, the long wait is over. I’ll be back in my Mobil1 Chevy this weekend at Richmond,” he tweeted. “I can’t wait to race again.”

Stewart has yet to race this season after he suffered a burst fracture of the L1 vertebra in a January 31 all-terrain vehicle accident.

“As soon as the doctors said they were happy with my scans, I wasn’t going to wait any longer to get back in my racecar,” Stewart said. “I want to make the most of my last season in Sprint Cup, and I’ve been on the sidelines long enough.”

NASCAR has also granted Stewart a waiver to make this year’s Chase for the Championship, should he qualify. NASCAR released a statement from Executive Vice President Steve O’Donnell this morning:

“NASCAR received the appropriate medical clearance documentation allowing Tony Stewart to resume normal racing activities. We also have granted the request from Stewart-Haas Racing for a waiver for Tony to be eligible to qualify for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. As he begins his final season, we wish Tony the best of luck.”

To qualify for NASCAR’s playoffs, Stewart will have to win at least one race and be in the top 30 in Sprint Cup points at the end of the September race at RIR.

Richmond will mark Stewart’s 591st career Sprint Cup start, according to his racing team. Thirty-three of those starts have come at Richmond, where Stewart has three wins, four second-place finishes, 11 top-fives, 19 top-10s and has led a total of 950 laps.

Richmond is home to Stewart’s his first career Sprint Cup win, earned on Sept. 11, 1999 when he led 333 of 400 laps.

“I appreciate everyone’s patience and all the support they’ve given me the last couple of months, but the best medicine will come this weekend at Richmond when I finally get to go racing,” Stewart said.

Stewart previously announced plans to retire after the 2016 season.