CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA – Three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion Tony Stewart is expected to miss the start of the racing series’ 2016 season after suffering a back injury following an all-terrain vehicle crash Sunday.
According to a statement from Stewart-Haas Racing, the team Stewart co-owns and drives the No. 14 Chevrolet for, the 44-year-old driver sustained a “burst fracture of the L1 vertebra” following an ATV crash Sunday while he was vacationing along the West Coast.
Stewart was taken to an area hospital for evaluation following the non-racing accident. The team reports Stewart was “awake and alert throughout the process” and was able to move all of his extremities.
Tuesday evening, Stewart was taken and admitted to a Charlotte, North Carolina-area hospital for further evaluation and an eventual surgery Wednesday.
Stewart-Haas Racing confirmed that Stewart’s recovery will mean he will miss the beginning of the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, including the season-opening Daytona 500.
At this point, there is no timetable for Stewart to return to the racetrack but the race team stressed that they expect Stewart to make a full recovery and return to the No. 14 Chevrolet in 2016.
Stewart had previously announced that 2016 would be his final year as a full-time driver in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Between his time with Joe Gibbs Racing and Stewart Haas Racing from 1999 through 2015, Stewart has won 48 races, lead over 12,700 laps, and amassed three overall championships.
The driver has yet to win a Daytona 500, finishing a career-high of second in February 2004, the first year of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series. Stewart has won four times during the sport’s summertime visit to Daytona International Speedway.
According to Stewart-Haas Racing, plans for an interim driver have not been finalized.
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