Two days ago, Bass Pro Shops president and CEO Johnny Morris issued a statement supporting Tony Stewart in his return to competition.
Now, the leader of one of Stewart’s other primary sponsors says that he too is standing behind the three-time NASCAR champion.
W.M. Rush, whose Rush Truck Centers is serving as primary backer for Stewart’s No. 14 Chevrolet in five Sprint Cup races this year, has told USA Today writer and NBCSN contributor Nate Ryan: “We stand by Tony.”
Mr. Rush is in attendance for this evening’s Oral-B USA 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway – Stewart’s first race since his involvement in a fatal sprint car accident on Aug. 9 at Canandaigua (N.Y.) Motorsports Park.
“That’s why I’m here today,” Rush added. “It was a terrible accident. It was a tragedy. Obviously like anyone, we’re sitting back and waiting for the investigation [to be completed]. At the same time, we see nothing right now that would change our relationship with Stewart-Haas [Racing].”
Mr. Rush also noted that feedback from the public on his company’s social media channels have been “overwhelmingly in support of our sponsorship, of SHR, and of Tony.”
Rush Truck Centers’ sponsorship of Stewart is slated to run through next year, and while Mr. Rush mentioned to Ryan that he’s talked to some members of his company’s board of directors and executive staff, there have been no meetings about possible re-evaluation of its pact with “Smoke.”
When asked if the sponsorship would be affected if Stewart were to be charged criminally at the end of the accident investigation, Mr. Rush did not comment.
However, he did give his condolences to the family of Kevin Ward Jr., the 20-year-old racer who was struck and killed by Stewart’s car in the accident.
“Speaking for Rush Truck Centers, Rush Enterprises and myself, obviously our deepest sympathy goes out to them as they go through the healing process,” he said. “It’s difficult and devastating on the Ward family, but I know how hurt Tony has felt.
“I grieve for both sides, if that makes sense.”