UPDATE (11:10 p.m. ET): Three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart has made a victorious comeback to sprint car racing this evening at the Tri-City Motor Speedway in Auburn, Michigan.
The track’s Facebook page confirmed that Stewart won tonight’s feature:
The event was Stewart’s first sprint car race since he broke his leg in a crash last August at the Southern Iowa Speedway. The injury caused him to miss the final 15 races in the 2013 Sprint Cup season.
This past May, Stewart vowed that his first sprint car race after the accident would occur when people least expected it.
“I will be able to tell you how it went,” he said at the time. “Let’s put it that way. You won’t know when it’s coming. When I do go, nobody is going to know about it.”
But with the Sprint Cup Series taking this weekend off, word got out that “Smoke” would be racing tonight in Michigan.
Scot Johnson, sports director at local station WNEM-TV, was able to confirm Stewart’s participation:
And soon enough, fans and media members alike began to post both videos and photos of him rounding the track in practice earlier today:
MotorSportsTalk continues its review of the Verizon IndyCar Series field, driver-by-driver, with a look at Ryan Briscoe. Despite not having a ride to start the year, Briscoe ended strongly courtesy of a series of strong runs at Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.
Ryan Briscoe, No. 5 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda
- 2014: 11th Place, Best Finish 4th, Best Start 4th, 1 Top-5, 11 Top-10, 5 Laps Led, 12.8 Avg. Start, 10.6 Avg. Finish
- 2015: 18th Place (8 starts), Best Finish 5th, Best Start 2nd, 1 Top-5, 4 Top-10, 10 Laps Led, 17.8 Avg. Start, 12.0 Avg. Finish
For those who slag on Briscoe as being undeserving of top level equipment, his 2015 second half provided a friendly reminder of his overall ability level in what might be less than the best machinery.
Briscoe was thrust into the No. 5 car under trying circumstances to begin with, getting all of an hour’s worth practice replacing the injured James Hinchcliffe ahead of the Indianapolis 500. But subsequent drives on the ovals there, Texas, Fontana, Milwaukee and Iowa – even if the results were less than ideal – showcased a driver determined to show to the paddock he still had it, and then some. His defense against Juan Pablo Montoya in Sonoma was nothing short of brilliant, and courtesy of double points he actually finished ahead of full-season driver Stefano Coletti.
The Australian immediately gelled with the SPM team, engineer Allen McDonald and race strategist Robert Gue. He continues to prove he’s an asset, as he has enjoyed multiple opportunities to extend his career in various arenas of motorsport in both open-wheel and sports cars, the latter of which he won at both the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring with Corvette Racing this year.
Following an early retirement for Mercedes AMG Petronas teammate Nico Rosberg, Lewis Hamilton has closed even more on his third Formula 1 World Championship.
View it above in the race recap from the 2015 Russian Grand Prix.