Tony Stewart: 'I'm ready to go again'
May 30, 2014, Holly Cain, NASCAR.com
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DOVER, Del. -- Tony Stewart was so happy to be back in a sprint car that after a single test session Monday, he revealed to NASCAR.com exclusively that he secretly entered a sprint car race Thursday night in what would have been his first since severely breaking his leg last summer.
"Theoretically by today I should have already run my first race, but we got rained out," Stewart said, shaking his head Friday before qualifying at Dover International Speedway.
"The good thing is that it went great on Monday so we went full steam ahead for Thursday. …. It was just like when I got in the Cup car, it felt like I hadn't been out of it."
"But I honestly hadn't looked any further than last night (Thursday) because I just wanted to see how it went, how it felt. I'm not in any hurry. I'm not racing for points. I'm not driving them to make a living so I can be a lot more selective about where I’m going and when I'm going."
Stewart smiled coyly when asked where he was supposed to race Thursday, insisting he wants to keep that to himself and may even use a fake name when the next opportunity presents itself.
"You won't know when it's coming. … I'm just going to slide in and do it. I want to enjoy it," he said.
That Stewart feels so good in the sprint car is indicative of how far his recovery has come since severely breaking his right tibia and fibula in an Aug. 5 crash on the half-mile dirt-oval in Oskaloosa, Iowa.
He is still undergoing physical therapy sessions multiple times during the week, but has been competitive in the Sprint Cup Series this year despite missing the final four months of the 2013 season. He won the Coors Light Pole Award at Texas in April and had back-to-back top-five finishes at Bristol and Fontana in March.
He is still looking for a victory this season to ensure his path into the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup and is the defending winner of Sunday's FedEx 400 benefiting Autism Speaks at Dover.
"As far as rehab, pain, all that stuff, I thought it would all be done, that we would be healed 100 percent by now,'' said Stewart, a co-owner of Stewart-Haas Racing and driver of the No. 14 Code 3 Associations/Mobil 1 Chevy.
"You just don't know what to judge for recovery times because you've just never been through it."
Another sure sign that the three-time champ Stewart is feeling better is his recent entrance to Twitter. After being reluctant to participate in the social network, he actually broke the news of his sprint car test on his Twitter account. He posted photos of the car for his nearly quarter-million followers.
He's even included photos from his physical therapy sessions.
"I realize what I had been missing a long time, but I realize why I have been missing it too," a smiling Stewart said of Twitter. "The risk versus reward isn't very good on this deal for people in our position, but you realize why it's cool for the fans. It's cool for me to see what is on their minds. I think I'm having as much fun reading what they are writing as they are about what I'm putting on there.''
Stewart's Twitter photos certainly grabbed people's attention and ignited his fans' hopes of seeing him return to the sprint car ranks. And despite those that thought otherwise, he reiterated that was always the plan for him.
"I'm going to live my life and it's nobody else's decision but mine," Stewart said. "I think there are a lot worse things I could be doing with my life than what I choose to do."
"And," he added with a huge grin, "I'm ready to go again."