Tony Stewart wins in his first sprint car race since crash (PHOTOS, UPDATED)

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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:

Tony Stewart on track at Tri City Motor Speedway. #smokewillrise

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INDYCAR: Newgarden, Sato quickest in first of 2 Friday practices at Road America

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Josef Newgarden was quickest in the first of Friday’s two INDYCAR practice sessions at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.

The 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series champion covered the 4.048-mile, 14-turn course with a best lap of 1:43.0477, followed by Takuma Sato (1:43.4729), Alexander Rossi (1:43.5603), Robert Wickens (1:43.5774) and Marco Andretti (1:43.8825).

Sixth-quickest was Tony Kanaan (1:44.0429), followed by Spencer Pigot (1:44.1080), Zach Veach (1:44.1306), Scott Dixon (1:44.1643) and Matheius Leist (1:44.2963).

Alfonso Celis Jr., making his Verizon IndyCar Series debut and with Juncos Racing, was 22nd quickest in the 23-car field at 1:44.9164, while Gabby Chaves was the slowest driver on the course at 1:46.4485.

While there were no significant incidents during the 45-minute session, a number of drivers struggled in several turns, primarily due to some lingering puddles from overnight rain, as well as on rumble strips that threw their cars into adjacent grass areas.

The second practice session today takes place at 4:15 p.m. ET.

A third practice kicks off Saturday’s busy day at Noon ET, followed by qualifying at 4 p.m. ET, the second round of qualifying at 4:40 p.m. ET and the third and final round of qualifying at 5 p.m. ET.

The weekend’s main event, Sunday’s KOHLER Grand Prix, takes the green flag shortly after 1 p.m. ET. Make sure to tune in to NBCSN for the live telecast of the race.

We’ll have the full practice grid and driver quotes shortly. Please check back soon.

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