Tony Stewart has been given the all clear by doctors to return to action this weekend at the Richmond International Speedway after recovering from a back injury which ruled him out of the start of the season.
The 44-year-old suffered a fracture of the L1 vertebra in a non-racing accident on an off-road vehicle in late January which has ruled him out of the first eight rounds of the NASCAR Sprint Series championship.
The Indiana driver was duly replaced by Brian Vickers and Ty Dillon in the #14 Stewart-Haas Chevrolet and after being initially ruled out of the event in Richmond Stewart has passed a fitness test to satisfy doctors he is ready to return this weekend for the Toyota Owners 400.
It has also been confirmed Stewart will take part in a Goodyear tyre test on the 26-27 April at Indianapolis and will practice and qualify for Talladega before handing over to Dillon for the race.
"We're taking a strategic approach to my return," Stewart said. "Richmond is a track where I feel very comfortable and because it's a short track, the speeds are substantially less.
“The Goodyear test in Indy is sort of a controlled environment, allowing me to get more acclimated with my car at higher speeds. We'll start the Talladega race to get the points, but understanding the style of racing and the higher potential of getting involved in an incident, we thought it was best to minimize the amount of time I'm in the car.
“I'll return full time at Kansas and enjoy every moment I can in my final year of Sprint Cup. I appreciate everyone's patience and all the support they've given me the last couple of months, but the best medicine will come this weekend at Richmond when I finally get to go racing."
Stewart announced last September 2016 will mark his final season in NASCAR's Sprint Cup and he will hand over to Clint Bowyer in 2017.