Earlier this week, Tony Stewart returned to the cockpit of a sprint car for the first time since his season-ending accident last summer.
And as it turns out, Stewart tried to race one too. NASCAR.com’s Holly Cain reports that he secretly entered a sprint car race that was to run on Thursday at a location ‘Smoke’ wouldn’t reveal.
But Mother Nature had other ideas.
“Theoretically by today, I should have already run my first race, but we got rained out,” Stewart said to Cain.
As for when he’ll try to race again – something he said he would eventually do, although likely not so often – that’s something only the former Sprint Cup and Indy Racing League champion knows.
“I will be able to tell you how it went,” he said while in the center of a media swarm this afternoon at Dover International Speedway.
“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. I’m going to just slide in and do it. I want to enjoy it. I don’t want it to be a cluster.
“Judging off the fact of how many people showed up just to talk to me about going and testing for a couple of hours, I can imagine what the group is going to be like after I run my first race.”
Stewart’s chaotic accident left him with a broken right tibia and fibula, and his Stewart-Haas Racing team was forced to run multiple drivers in his No. 14 Chevrolet for the remainder of the 2013 Sprint Cup season.
He’s worked hard in rehab to overcome the injury but the process continues. Today, he admitted that he figured he’d be 100 percent healed by now.
“But [I] keep going to the doctor on our scheduled appointments and they keep updating us on how it’s going and what they think the outlook is for it,” he said. “We just adjust it.
“When you haven’t gone through something like this you don’t know what to think and don’t know how to feel about it. You don’t know what to judge for recovery times and this and that because you’ve just never been through it.
“If it ever happens again, I will have a better idea of how to answer that. You just take it a day at a time still.”
However, Stewart insisted that driving a sprint car again was not part of his recovery process. It was simply something he wanted to do.
“It wasn’t really part of a checklist,” he said. “Daytona was the checklist of being able to get back in. Once we did that, we knew we could do [driving a sprint car]. It was just a matter of when to do it.”
Sometimes, Stewart has rapped the media’s knuckles for what he sees as blowing stories out of proportion. In fact, just days before his season-ending crash last year, he took the press to task for their coverage of a sprint car wreck he had in Canada that saw him flip multiple times.
But today, Stewart seemed bemused by all the attention he received.
“I still laugh about how big a deal this has all been made,” he said. “We had Cup drivers get hurt last year. One had a broken wrist, one had a broken back and nobody said anything. It was all minor news.
“I’ve made more news by getting hurt in a dirt car than any of these guys. It’s bigger news than the guy that had the same injury I had falling off a bicycle last week. I get chuckled.”