The Chase isn’t important as it pertains to Tony Stewart, says Stewart-Haas executive VP

Credit: LJ Cloud for Skirts and Scuffs
In a brief press conference at Michigan International Speedway this morning, Stewart-Haas Racing staff clearly communicated their priorities and concerns as the next few weeks unfold after the tragic on-track incident that resulted in the death of Ken Ward Jr. At the bottom of that list was the Sprint Cup Chase as it relates to NASCAR three-time Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart.

“I’ll be honest with you, the Chase is of the lowest priority as it relates to Tony,” said Brett Frood, executive vice president for Stewart-Haas Racing. “As far as the Chase goes the only care I have this weekend is to get Danica in the Chase. Right now it is about getting Tony at a better place than he is right now, and when he is he’ll get back in the car. I don’t care about the Chase,” he added.

When asked about Stewart’s current emotional state and specifics about where he is, Frood simply stated, “Tony is grieving. He is surrounded by his closest friends and family and his location is of a private nature right now.”

The team’s stability was also addressed by comments regarding corporate sponsors.

“From a sponsor standpoint we have the greatest sponsors in the world,” Frood said “They are very caring. They understand that this is very emotional. There is much sympathy for the family of the young man, and they care for Tony. We have a great deal of support from our partners,” he added.

NASCAR veteran driver Jeff Burton, who will be racing the No. 14 car this weekend, also addressed the issue of stability during the press conference.

“My role here is to hopefully provide a little stability to give that team the most chance they can have in a very difficult situation,” Burton said. “Hopefully me being here some way can help – I don’t know how, but hopefully I can find a way to help a healing process to start. That would be my ultimate goal,” he added.

As race weekend continues, Stewart-Haas Racing goes through the familiar steps of preparing, but this time with heavy hearts.

“As far as getting ready for this weekend, the task at hand of Greg (Zipadelli, SHR competition director) and the rest of our crew is to prepare four cars for our drivers and figure out how to win this week in Michigan,” said Frood.

For Burton, it is about giving his all in an awkward, emotion-filled situation.

“Obviously it is an awkward situation for everybody, but there are a lot of people at Stewart-Haas Racing that work really hard and deserve 100 percent effort from me and that’s what they are going to get,” Burton said.

A timetable for Stewart's return to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series has not been determined. However, on Monday, Stewart-Haas Racing spokesman Mike Arning said that all "extra-curricular racing plans" for the weekend had been canceled, and "won't resume until further notice."
The Chase isn’t important as it pertains to Tony Stewart, says Stewart-Haas executive VP The Chase isn’t important as it pertains to Tony Stewart, says Stewart-Haas executive VP Reviewed by Carol D'Agostino on Friday, August 15, 2014 Rating: 5