Tony Stewart’s hopes of winning the Daytona 500 in his final NASCAR season behind the wheel have come to an unfortunate end. It was just announced by Stewart-Haas Racing that the Columbus, Ind. native will not be participating in the beginning of the 2016 Sprint Cup season.
Stewart was hospitalized Tuesday after he suffered back injuries in an incident while off-roading near San Diego, Calif. Fellow Sprint Cup driver Greg Biffle was a part of the group Stewart was riding with and talked briefly on SiriusXM’s NASCAR channel about the incident.
“We were kind of all riding as a group,” said Biffle. “We started kind of hearing bits and pieces that he hurt his back. That’s all we knew. I do know the people that helped him said he was walking and moving all of his extremities, but he was in a lot of pain.”
Stewart was reportedly flown back to North Carolina Tuesday evening before undergoing surgery for a burst fracture of his L1 vertebra on Wednesday.
Although a timetable has not been given for when Stewart will be healed, he is expected to make a full recovery and return to his No.14 Chevrolet at some point in 2016. Plans for an interim driver while Stewart is recovering have yet to be finalized or announced.