14 TONY STEWART, Chevrolet
Team: Stewart-Haas Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: 26th. Must win the Richmond race to qualify for the Chase.
RICHMOND RECORD: Three wins and 19 top-10 finishes including 11 top-five's in 30 starts.
LOOKING AHEAD: Richmond has always been one of Stewart's favorite tracks and one where he has had a lot of success. For those reasons, crew chief Chad Johnson feels "we have a good chance this weekend. We want to run well and have a shot at it (the win). We feel we can do that."
LOOKING BACK: Stewart returned to the driver's seat for the first time since the tragic accident on Aug. 9 at Canandaigua (NY) Motorsports Park in which Stewart's sprint car hit and killed 20-year-old Kevin Ward Jr. Stewart qualified 12th at Atlanta and quickly moved up to fourth. But on the restart following the third caution flag, Stewart was pushed into the wall after being clipped by Kyle Busch. Stewart's car suffered major damage to the right front. He was able to continue but on lap 172 a right-front tire blew out sending Stewart into the wall to end his day in 41st place. Stewart declined all interview requests. Crew chief Chad Johnson said, "The car had speed all weekend long. I went into today with some pretty high hopes of finishing well and possibly coming out of here with a win but it just didn't work out in our favor. We got into a little trouble with the 18 ad we were just trying to salvage what we could out of the day but then we blew a right front. "
ETC.: Before a packed media center on Friday at Atlanta, Stewart addressed the media for the first time since the tragic death of Ward. A visibly emotional Stewart read a statement he had personally prepared. "This has been one of the toughest tragedies I've ever had to deal with, both professionally and personally, and this is something that will definitely affect my life forever," said Stewart. "This is a sadness and a pain that I hope no one ever had to experience in their life. That being said, I know that the pain that Kevin Ward's family and friends are experiencing is something that I can't possibly imagine. I want Kevin's father, Kevin Sr., his mother Pam, and his sisters Christi, Kayla, Katelyn, to know that every day I'm thinking about them and praying for them. 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. It's given me the time to think about life and how easy it is to take it for granted. I miss being back in the race car. I think being back this week with my racing family will help me get through this difficult time. I also understand that all of you have many questions and want a lot of answers; however I need to respect the ongoing investigation process and cannot answer and address the questions at this time. Emotionally I'm not sure if I could answer them anyway."