Frood: Tony Stewart Dealing With Quite a Bit of Grief


KANNAPOLIS, N.C. — The grief that Kevin Ward Jr.’s family has endured in the week since his tragic death at Canandaigua Speedway has been well documented, and is very understandable. However little has been said by Tony Stewart, and we haven’t actually seen him since that fateful night.

On Friday morning, a press conference led by Stewart-Haas Racing helped paint a picture of how the three-time Sprint Cup Series champion has been coping since the tragic events from last Saturday night.

“This decision [not to race] was Tony’s,” said Executive Vice President of Stewart-Haas Racing, Brett Frood, “An emotional week for him. He’s grieving. [Tony] Made the decision he’s not ready to get in the racecar and will take it week by week.”

Frood continued by emphasizing that Stewart would return to the Sprint Cup Series garage, when he is ready, “It will be up to Tony when he’s ready to get back in the car.”

Where has Stewart been since the tragic accident that claimed the life of Ward?

“Tony is surrounded right now by his closest friends and family. We’re obviously in contact with him,” said Frood, “His location is of a private nature right now.”

Thursday the team announced that Jeff Burton would be the interim driver in Stewart’s absence, but Frood would explain that nothing is known about next week just yet.

“Jeff will be the driver this weekend at Michigan. We have not discussed any other races. We’ll talk to Tony. When he’s ready to get in the car, he’ll be in there, and we’ll go from there.”

Michigan will mark the second-consecutive Sprint Cup Series race that Stewart will miss. Last week at Watkins Glen though, Stewart did qualify his car which kept his eligibility for the Chase active. That status will definitely change after this week. Frood talked about Stewart being eliminated from Chase contention for the second-consecutive season.

“I’ll be honest, the Chase is of the lowest priority as it relates to Tony right now. As far as the Chase, the only care I have this weekend is to get Danica in the Chase,” Frood said, “Right now it’s about getting Tony in a better place than he is. When he’s ready to do that, he’ll get back in the car. Don’t care about the Chase.”

A Chase berth does seem like a silly thing to worry about, especially given the circumstances by which Stewart has decided to not race.

“It’s been an emotional week for him. He’s grieving. Anytime someone is lost, especially at a racetrack, it’s tragic. It was a tragic accident, and he’s dealing with quite a bit of grief,” Frood explained.

Stay tuned to Rubbings Racing for the latest on this ever changing story.

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About Toby Christie

Toby Christie is the Senior Writer for Rubbings Racing. He has been watching NASCAR since 1993, and has covered the sport as a media member since 2007. Toby is a proud member of the NMPA. Additionally, Toby is a lifelong Miami Dolphins fan, subpar guitarist and he is pretty good around a mini-golf course.

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