Tony Stewart is certainly not starting off his retirement season as he would’ve hoped.
The three-time Sprint Cup Series Champion will miss the season-opening Daytona 500, as well as possible other events as a result of a burst fracture to the L1 vertebra in his back. Stewart sustained the injury as a result of an accident while driving a dune buggy in the desert just east of San Diego.
Biffle was one of the fellow NASCAR drivers in attendance with Stewart, and spoke of the incident with SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s Claire B. Lang on Wednesday evening. He stated that he wasn’t near Stewart when the event happened, nor knew what had happened exactly.
“But the dunes are unpredictable and, you know, you can land harder on some spots than others,” Biffle said. “I tell you what, I’ve knocked the wind out of myself; I’ve thought I’d broke my tailbone or back before. I don’t know exactly Tony’s situation or exactly what happened, but it can be done.”
SHR states in the statement that following the incident on Sunday, Stewart was transported to local hospital and promptly evaluated. Through the whole process, he was able awake and alert, and able to move all extremities. The statement goes on to read that, “Stewart flew to North Carolina Tuesday evening and was admitted to a Charlotte-area Hospital for further evaluations”. Surgery was then performed on Wednesday.
Stewart is expected to make a full recovery and return to the seat of the No. 14 Chevrolet at SHR, but no timetable has been determined as of yet. The team has yet to finalize details surrounding an interim driver.
Stewart announced during the second half of the 2015 season that the upcoming 2016 season would be his last year behind the wheel full-time in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Stewart finished 28th in points this past season with three top-10 finishes.