Another major sponsor reaffirms backing of Tony Stewart


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.”

Position of F1 start lights altered to compensate for safety halo

Getty Images
Leave a comment

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — The position of start lights will be altered on Formula One tracks this season, in a bid to ensure the drivers’ line of vision is not impeded by the controversial halo protection device.

The halo is a titanium structure introduced this year in a bid to ramp up driver safety, forming a ring around the cockpit top. It is designed to protect the drivers’ head from loose debris and offer better safety during eventual collisions.

Although drivers largely understand the need for it, very few like it. They are worried it impedes visibility, it looks ugly and also that fans will no longer be able to identify a driver properly from his race helmet. Drivers also take longer to climb in and out of their cars.

Formula One’s governing body has addressed concerns and asked every circuit “to make the lights at a standard height above the track,” FIA race director Charlie Whiting said.

“Pole position seems to be the worst case scenario with the halo,” Whiting added at the season-opening Australian GP. “Maybe the driver can’t quite see the lights, or see only half of them, and he might have to move his head too much.”

The new start lights were positioned lower for Friday’s first two practice sessions at Albert Park. Drivers were also allowed the rare chance to rehearse grid starts at the end of both sessions.

“We haven’t normally allowed practice starts on the grid here because it’s quite a tight timetable,” Whiting said. “What I thought would be a good idea was to give the driver sight of those lights, rather than for the first time on Sunday evening.”

A repeat set of lights has been moved from its usual position halfway up the grid to a more convenient position to the left.

“Those repeat lights were normally halfway up the grid, and they were fitted round about 2009, when the rear wings became higher on the cars,” Whiting said. “But now the wings have been lowered, there’s no need for those halfway up the grid.”