CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Tony Stewart will miss the start of his final NASCAR season after fracturing his back in an accident on an all-terrain vehicle.
Stewart-Haas Racing said the three-time NASCAR champion sustained a “burst fracture of the L1 vertebra” when he crashed on an ATV Sunday. He had surgery Wednesday. A timetable for Stewart’s return has not been determined, but the team said he is expected to make a full recovery and race this year.
An interim driver for the No. 14 Chevrolet was not named Thursday. Drivers report to Daytona next week to begin preparations for the season-opening Daytona 500 on Feb. 21.
Stewart will miss what was expected to be his final Daytona 500. He is 0-17 in the prestigious race and spoke last month about how it’s one of the few glaring holes on his resume. Stewart, who turns 45 in May, plans to retire from NASCAR competition at the end of this year.
Stewart was with Greg Biffle and other NASCAR personalities on the ATV outing in the desert when he crashed. The team said he was awake and alert as he was taken to a hospital and he was able to move all of his extremities.
Stewart flew to North Carolina late Tuesday and remained hospitalized Thursday following his surgery.