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April 21, 2016

NASCAR: Tony Stewart granted Chase waiver

RELATED: Full Stewart coverage

Tony Stewart, who will return to the track this weekend at Richmond International Raceway after missing the first eight races of the season, has been granted a waiver making him eligible to qualify for the 2016 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, according to NASCAR.

“NASCAR received the appropriate medical clearance documentation allowing Tony Stewart to resume normal racing activities,” NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O’Donnell. “We also have granted the request from Stewart-Haas Racing for a waiver for Tony to be eligible to qualify for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. As he begins his final season, we wish Tony the best of luck.”

Because he did not attempt to qualify for every race, Stewart would not have been eligible for the 2016 postseason without the waiver. The Stewart-Haas Racing driver and co-owner is now in the same position as Kyle Busch in 2015.

The clearest path to the postseason, as Busch proved last year, is for Stewart to win one race before the regular season ends at Richmond in the fall, and climb into the top 30 in the points standings.

“Smoke” injured his back in an all-terrain vehicle accident in late January, and has been sidelined since. He’s been prevalent at the track, though, as drivers Ty Dillon and Brian Vickers have filled his seat.