Joe Gibbs: Tony Stewart is 'a racer's racer'

The Associated Press
Tony Stewart skips 3rd race after Ward's death
.

View photo

FILE - In this July 12, 2013 file photo, NASCAR driver Tony Stewart speaks at a press conference prior to NASCAR practice at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, N.H. Stewart is skipping a second straight Sprint Cup race, and it is not clear when the NASCAR star might return after he struck and killed a driver at a dirt-track race in New York last weekend. (AP Photo/Cheryl Senter, File)

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (AP) -- Joe Gibbs is waiting for Tony Stewart to emerge from seclusion to reach out to his former driver.

Stewart has been in isolation since his car struck and killed Kevin Ward Jr. in an Aug. 8 sprint car race.

''I didn't feel like it was the right time (to call him), but we're all praying for him,'' Gibbs said. ''We all love Tony. I love what he did for us here. We all know he's a racer's racer, and he's big for our sport.''

Stewart drove for Gibbs from 1997 through 2008, winning Cup titles in 2002 and 2005 driving for Joe Gibbs Racing. He left following the 2008 season when he was offered an ownership stake at Stewart-Haas Racing.

Gibbs said Tuesday he learned early in his tenure that sprint car racing was Stewart's passion and the car owner had to accept Stewart's participation in other series. He said all team meetings were disrupted by Stewart updating the group on his latest adventures outside of NASCAR.

''I had to spend 30 minutes listening to him how he won a dirt late model race, and I wanted to go, 'I don't care, OK?''' Gibbs said, laughing. ''But he was so excited. I came to the conclusion that was him - for him to be happy and doing the things that he wanted to do, he was going to be racing.''

Gibbs said Stewart was a valuable member at JGR. When another employee was struggling to cover the cost of adopting a child, Stewart gave him the needed funds. He hoped as Stewart continues his recovery process, more examples of Stewart's softer side will emerge.

''Tony's got great courage. He's smart. He loves this sport. He's totally focused on it. He doesn't have distractions,'' Gibbs said. ''He's very important to our sport. This is a horrible thing to have happen for the Ward family, for him.''

Sign up for Yahoo Fantasy Hockey
Sorry you didn't like this comment. Please provide a reason below.

Are you sure?
Rating failed. Try again.
Request failed. Try again.
We will promote constructive and witty comments to the top, so everyone sees them!
Sorry, we can’t load comments right now. Try again.
    • IAAF congress to vote on broad reforms

      IAAF congress to vote on broad reforms

      Athletics officials from around the world are weighing broad reforms in the sport's governance, hoping to turn the corner on corruption and doping scandals that dragged its reputation to the gutter. Saturday's special congress of the IAAF is being … More »

      AP - Sports - 22 minutes ago
    • Man City have steel to win title, says Sterling

      Man City have steel to win title, says Sterling

      By Claire Bloomfield LONDON (Reuters) - Manchester City possess the steel to grind out results in the Premier League title race and are ready to out-battle leaders Chelsea on Saturday, according to forward Raheem Sterling. Pep Guardiola's … More »

      Reuters - 42 minutes ago
    • Road rage ends in McKnight's death; criticism of case looms

      Road rage ends in McKnight's death; criticism of case looms

      A road rage incident possibly sparked by a driver cutting off another on a nearby bridge spiraled into a shooting that left an ex-NFL player dead, authorities said, amid criticism the shooter was allowed to go free. Joe McKnight, 28, was shot … More »

      AP - Sports - 55 minutes ago
    • Bolt and Ayana win IAAF awards

      Bolt and Ayana win IAAF awards

      By Mitch Phillips MONACO (Reuters) - Jamaica's Usain Bolt and Ethiopian distance runner Almaz Ayana were crowned as the IAAF's athletes of the year on Friday. Bolt completed his amazing Olympic "triple triple" of 100metres, 200metres and 4x100m … More »

      Reuters - 1 hour 35 minutes ago
    • Dodt holds lead at Aussie, Scott fades

      Dodt holds lead at Aussie, Scott fades

      Andrew Dodt held the lead for the third straight round at the Australian PGA Championship on Saturday, hanging onto a two-stroke cushion after Adam Scott started fast but faded and Harold Varner III scrapped on the front nine and finished strongly. … More »

      AP - Sports - 1 hour 40 minutes ago