Stewart on sprint cars: He’ll cut back, but race again

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Tony Stewart said Tuesday he will race a sprint car again, but won’t attempt a similar number of races in 2014 as he planned this year.

“This year was the most aggressive schedule we planned. I wouldn’t plan on 70 races again next year. I was too aggressive on number of dates,” he said. “I’ll get back in one eventually, no time frame, but I will cut back the amount of races out of scheduling purposes more than anything. I was starting to feel tired. The Truck race (at Eldora) was a lot of stress. I’m definitely going to cut back quite a bit.”

Stewart said several safety measures are in the process of being developed around the country to enhance sprint car safety.

“Safety fixes started before my accident,” he said. “Jerry Russell of Eagle chassis has a torque tube tunnel being developed. Butler Built here in Charlotte is working on a tether system. Jimmy Carr, my crew chief, has been working on a torque tube plus tethers. It’s a movement similar to when Dale Sr. crashed and it sparked safety improvements. How can we make things better?

“There’s gonna be something,” he added, then admonishing some reporters. “Sprint car racing has had a dark cloud over it. Reading some of the articles from writers who don’t know anything about it has devastated the sprint car community. Manufacturers have got involved here. It’s not nearly as dangerous as everything thinks it is. There’s no formal group like NASCAR, but it’s independents coming together.”

Despite rumors or stories to the contrary, Stewart’s sponsors have supported him throughout the process since his accident.

“My sponsors have been amazing through this,” he said. “They want to me to be healthy. The sprint car topic has been sensitive, but they have all been supportive of me living my life.”

NHRA: Brittany Force cleared to race this weekend in Phoenix after bad wreck 2 weeks ago

Photo: John Force Racing
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Drag racing is a Force family tradition. So, too, is not keeping a Force family member down.

Just 12 days after the most serious wreck of her six-year drag racing career, Brittany Force and John Force Racing announced late Thursday afternoon that the defending 2017 NHRA Top Fuel champion has been medically cleared and will indeed race in this weekend’s NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in suburban Phoenix, Arizona.

“I flew into Phoenix early this (Thursday) morning and headed straight out to the race track to meet up with my team,” Force said. “I suited up and got belted back into my car that I ran all last season.

“It honestly felt good to be strapped back in and I was surprised how comfortable I was. I’m looking forward to getting back in my car tomorrow (Friday’s first two rounds of qualifying) and getting back in the swing of things with my guys.”

The 31-year-old Force, one of four daughters of 16-time NHRA Funny Car champ John Force, suffered a concussion and bruising after the hard crash she was involved in on February 11 in the first round of eliminations of the season-opening NHRA Lucas Oil Winternationals in Pomona, California.

Shortly after leaving the starting line in a race vs. Terry Haddock, Force’s dragster crossed from the right to left lanes, impacted the retaining wall with a very hard lateral crash, bounced off, spun, went on its side and briefly caught fire after crossing the finish line wheels-up.

While she is still recovering from the bruising, Force feels strong enough to get back behind the wheel. Getting back in the race car could be the best medicine of all, since she has three runner-up finishes in Phoenix, including back-to-back second-place showings in both the 2016 and 2017 national events.

The three-day event kicks off Friday with qualifying rounds at 4 and 6:30 p.m. ET, the same times as Saturday’s qualifying. Final eliminations begin at 1 p.m. ET Sunday.