Stewart visited injured NASCAR fans in hospital
Tony Stewart visited six NASCAR fans who were injured Saturday during a horrific wreck on the last lap of the NASCAR Nationwide Series event at Daytona International Speedway.
Stewart was present at Halifax Health Medical Center Sunday after the Daytona 500 for more than two hours, according to a Stewart Haas Racing spokesman. He arrived at approximately 8 p.m. and stayed just past 10 p.m.
Stewart did not want to be acknowledged for the deed, but when ESPN.com learned he had visited the injured fans, his team confirmed the visit with his blessing.
The three-time champion met with each patient individually, and interacted extensively with five of them. He gave each a personalized, autographed Bass Pro Shops No. 14 cap.
It was Stewart’s decision alone to visit the fans, the spokesman said. He wanted to do it, and charged his team with coordinating logistics.
As he sped toward the checkered flag during the Nationwide race on Saturday, Stewart watched in his rearview mirror as Kyle Larson‘s No. 32 car went airborne, careening into the catch fence and spraying debris throughout the grandstands, injuring 28 people.
Stewart won the race, making it his seventh victory in the past nine years, tying him with Dale Earnhardt for most wins ever in that event at the track.
But in Victory Lane, Stewart was somber, saying that he was happy to win but that all focus should rest on those injured in the grandstands.
“As much as we want to celebrate right now, and as much as this is a big deal to us, I’m more worried about the drivers and the fans that are in the stands right now,” he said in Victory Lane. “Because that was … I could see it all in my mirror, and it didn’t look good from where I was at.”
Of those injured, 14 were sent to area hospitals. Seven of those were sent to Halifax Health, and six of those remained there Sunday night. Those were the fans visited by Stewart.
Stewart was involved in an early-race accident in the Daytona 500 and finished 41st.
Marty Smith | email