What’s next for Tony Stewart, business-wise?


The personal impact of what will happen to Tony Stewart, and how he recovers after the accident at Canandaigua (N.Y.) Motorsports Park, will be interesting to watch.

Additionally, Stewart has a number of vested business interests that could be impacted as well, depending on the outcome of the legal investigation in Ontario County (N.Y.) (see court case here).

In the short-term, Stewart has four more races to make the 2014 Chase for the Sprint Cup. He’s winless since Dover in June 2013; this year, he stands a winless 21st in points and will have to win at least once to be among the 16 drivers in NASCAR’s new for 2014 Chase grid.

[MORE: Stewart’s driving status for weekend is TBD]

Sponsors live and breathe with teams whether their driver makes the Chase; there can be financial incentives in play for making it. Stewart-Haas Racing will have at least two cars, Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch, in the field of 16 thanks to their wins earlier this year. But Stewart’s presence would ensure the team hit its preseason target of getting three of the four SHR cars in the Chase (Danica Patrick aside).

Realistically though, that’s the least of Stewart’s concerns. In the longer term, Stewart’s livelihood and those of the hundreds of families he employs could be at stake (more here from NBCSN contributor Nate Ryan for USA Today).

The legal story will continue, as the investigation into what precisely happened Saturday night beyond witness reports and a YouTube video (we’re not going to link to it out of respect) continues in New York.

The sponsors Stewart has managed to put together for his and Gene Haas’ Stewart-Haas Racing empire, and for the dirt track he owns – Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio – all have to take another step back and say, is this someone we want to be affiliated with?

NAPA pulled out of the Cup level after a mere race-fixing scandal last year. Does Bass Pro Shops, Mobil 1 or anyone else want to look at Stewart and say they don’t want to get dragged through the mud throughout this process?

The sponsor impact is where the families come into play. SHR has gone from also-ran to a top-flight NASCAR championship winning team in five seasons since Stewart and Haas joined forces ahead of the 2009 season.

[MORE: Sheriff says no evidence of criminal intent from Tony Stewart at this time]

It has a four-car operation and if there are any sponsor withdrawals, or scaling back, that will force the team to find new ones to keep all four cars in operation. This would undoubtedly be a tougher task now than 48 hours ago.

The outcome of this process could also have a financial impact on short tracks around the country, where Stewart’s presence could enhance their business. When a megastar like Stewart opts to moonlight at these one-off dirt race events, it generally provides a boost in ticket sales as one of NASCAR’s biggest stars races against local heroes.

But now there will be hard choices – there have to be. The contact between Stewart and Kevin Ward Jr. will have enduring ripple effects that not only affect the individuals, but the bottom line.

Neurosurgeon discusses brain injuries such as Michael Schumacher’s

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PARIS (AP) — More than four years after a ski accident caused him a near-fatal brain injury, little is known about Michael Schumacher’s current condition. Updates on his health have been extremely scarce ever since he left hospital in September 2014 to be cared for privately at his Swiss home on the shores of Lake Geneva. Details of his specific condition and the treatment he received have been kept strictly private. The last public statement 16 months ago clarified nothing further would be said.

Colin Shieff is a retired neurosurgeon from Britain’s National Health Service and a trustee of Headway, the national brain injury charity. Although he has never treated Schumacher, or spoken with doctors who’ve treated Schumacher over the years, he has dealt with similar cases both at immediate critical-care level and further down the line in terms of long-term treatment.

Shieff spent many years working with people with brain injuries and trauma, including at NATO field hospitals in Afghanistan an Iraq. He answered questions for The Associated Press related to the nature of Schumacher’s brain injury, pertaining to how his condition may have evolved in the time since his accident.

Q. In your opinion, what’s the likely prognosis at this stage?

A. “The nature of his injury and those bits of information that are available, and have been available, suggest that he has sustained permanent and very major damage to his brain. As a consequence his brain does not function in a fashion similar to yours or mine. The longer one goes on after an injury the more remote it is that any improvement becomes. He is almost certainly not going to change from the situation he is now.”

Q. What ongoing treatments would he be having?

A. “He will have the kind of treatment, which is care: giving him nourishment, giving him fluid. The probability is that this is given in the main – or at least as supplements – through some tube passed into his intestinal system, either through his nose or mouth, or more likely a tube in the front wall of the tummy. He will have therapy to sit him, because he won’t be able to get himself out of a bed and into a chair. He will be treated in a way that will ensure his limbs move and don’t remain rigid.”

Q. Would someone in his position receive around-the-clock treatment?

A. “He will be allowed a period of rest and sleep and relaxation, and he will be given an environment. I’m positive as I can be without knowing the facts (that) he will be living in an environment that – although it’s got artificial bits of medical kit and care and people – will mimic a caring, warm, pleasant, socially stimulating environment.”

Q. Would he be able to sense he’s in such an environment?

A. “I don’t know. There is always a technical, medical and neurological issue with defining a coma. Almost certainly he cannot express himself (in a conversation). He may well be able to indicate, or it may be apparent to those around him, that he is uncomfortable or unhappy. Or (he) is perhaps getting pleasure from seeing his children or hearing music he’s always liked, or having his hand stroked.”

Q. Are patients in his situation aware of touch and voice from family members?

A. “Absolutely. Even in the early stages, even in a critical care unit, when medicines are being given, for one individual at one time there may be an ability to discern and show response to someone they are familiar with. Respond to familiar, respond to family you’re triggered to. You hear them all your life so that’s the very, very familiar (aspect) the person is going to respond to.”

Q. Is there a chance he can make A) a full recovery? B) A partial recovery?

A. “First one, absolutely, totally no. Number one statistically, number two neurologically, and number three he’s been ill for so long. He’s lost muscle bulk, even if he opened his eyes and started talking there will have been loss of memory, there will be impact on behavior, on cognitive functions. He would not be the same person. (As for a) partial recovery, even the smallest thing that gets better is some kind of recovery. But (it depends) whether that recovery contributes to a functional improvement for him to be able to express himself – other than an evidence of saying `Yes’ or an evidence of saying `No.’ (Therefore) if he could use words of two syllables, if he could turn on the remote control for the tele. One can do, professionally, all sorts of wonderful things with electronic devices and couple them up to eye and mouth movements. Sometimes with a person in a situation called `Locked In’ or `Profoundly neurologically comprised’ – which is essentially paralysis but with continuing intellectual function – ways can be found to communicate with those people. If that had been so with Michael Schumacher I am positive we would have known that is the case, so I don’t believe it’s so for him.”

Q. This is a deeply personal decision for the family. But how long can treatment last for?

A. “In, for example, our health system we don’t have the luxury to keep maximal intervention going in a high-tech hospital environment. For Michael Schumacher’s family, I suspect they have the financial support to be able to provide those things. Therefore, for him, the future is longer but it doesn’t imply any change in the quality of it.”

Q. Some reports have estimated the cost of treatment at anything up to 200,000 euros ($245,000) per week. Is that realistic?

A. “I would personally think that’s over the top, in terms of what I reckon that might buy him. He’ll have a nurse, a therapist, a visiting doctor. There’ll be an extra pair of hands when something physical is being done, when he’s being moved to somewhere. That doesn’t add up to 150,000 euros or 200,000 euros. He needs essentially, somebody with nursing or therapeutic qualifications with him at all times. So that’s however many people you need to run a 24/7 roster. You’re talking probably eight people to provide that level of care constantly over a year’s period. That’s the number of nurses required for instance, to nurse or to staff, one critical care bed in an intensive care unit.”

More AP auto racing: https://racing.ap.org


For further details on Headway: https://www.headway.org.uk