Feb. 2, 2016
By Reid Spencer
NASCAR Wire Service
Three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Tony Stewart was hospitalized with a non-racing back injury, Stewart-Haas Racing spokesperson Mike Arning confirmed on Tuesday, just 10 days before racing activity is scheduled to begin at Daytona International Speedway.
Stewart, who has announced his impending retirement from Sprint Cup racing after the 2016 season, was riding an all-terrain vehicle when the accident occurred, according to an Associated Press report.
“Stewart was transported to a local hospital following the accident and is currently being evaluated,” said a statement issued by Stewart-Haas. “Stewart is awake and alert, and able to move all extremities. An update will be provided Thursday afternoon when more information is known.”
Stewart, 44, is scheduled to open the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season at Daytona. The Sprint Unlimited, a non-points exhibition race for which Stewart is eligible as a past winner of the event, will be run Feb. 13, followed by Daytona 500 pole qualifying on Feb. 14.
The season-opening points race, the Daytona 500, is set for Feb. 21 (1 p.m. on FOX).
“We have received word from Stewart-Haas Racing of Tony Stewart’s accident and injury,” said Brian France, NASCAR chairman and CEO. “On behalf of everyone at NASCAR, I wish Tony a full recovery and look forward to seeing him back in our sport when he’s ready to return.”
Stewart last won the series championship in 2011 when he won five of the 10 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup races and beat runner-up Carl Edwards on a tiebreaker. Since, then, however, his career has been star-crossed.
Stewart missed the last 15 races of the 2013 season after fracturing his leg in a sprint car accident in Iowa. A year later, he missed three races after a sprint car he was driving at Canandaigua (N.Y.) Speedway struck and killed fellow driver Kevin Ward Jr.