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Tony Stewart earns win, third in sprint car return

July 19, 2014, Staff report,

Three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champ returns to dirt days before hosting Eldora

MORE: Stewart back in sprint car | Bruce: Who are we to object?
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UPDATE JULY 19: Tony Stewart was back behind the wheel of a sprint car in Michigan, this time at Crystal Motor Speedway. Stewart won his heat race as he went for his second win in as many nights.

Stewart drew the eighth starting position, outside Row 4, for the main.

Once again, he faced Dustin Daggett, who Stewart said had the best car on Friday night at Tri-City Motor Speedway in Auburn, Michigan. Daggett will start 10th.

Daggett passed Stewart for second late in the race as Randy Hannagan won his third SOD/NRA Challenge.

In other Smoke-related news, Bryan Clauson won his second consecutive "Indiana Sprintweek" title with Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing.

According to this report, Tony wasn't the only Stewart to win a heat race on Saturday night. His father Nelson got a win at a track in Wisconsin.

Nearly a year after breaking his leg in a sprint car accident, Tony Stewart won in his return to a winged sprint on Friday at Tri-City Motor Speedway in Auburn, Michigan, according to .

Scot Johnson, sports director for WNEM-TV, a CBS affiliiate in Saginaw, Michigan, tweeted that Stewart "finished 2nd in Q heat got mad and hit the 1st-place car." After running runner-up to Dustin Daggett in the heat, Stewart came back to beat Daggett in the Engine Pro Sprints on Dirt finale for the 2014 season at the track.

"I think Dustin was hands down the fastest car tonight," Stewart said. "He should have won this thing."

On his Facebook page, Daggett posted: "Went off the track running first, finished 3rd! Congrats Tony Stewart ! Randy Hannigan 2nd!"

Stewart's progress was posted on social media throughout the night, including a notice from Smoke himself, a Twitter newcomer.

One of 21 drivers, according to fellow competitor Kyle Pitts, to participate in the event, the three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion showed up unannounced, as he said he would do earlier this season.

"You won't know when it's coming. ...I'm just going to slide in and do it. I want to enjoy it," Stewart told reporters in May.

Last August, in a crash on the half-mile dirt-oval in Oskaloosa, Iowa, Stewart severely broke his right tibia and fibula, missing the final 15 races of the Sprint Cup season.

In May, Stewart tweeted a picture from his first sprint car test since the accident, and he revealed to exclusively that he secretly entered a sprint car race on May 29 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 on May 30 before taking part in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light Pole Qualifying at Dover International Speedway.

"The good thing is that [the test] went great... so we went full steam ahead…. It was just like when I got in the Cup car, it felt like I hadn't been out of it."

Stewart also responded to critics who said he should give up sprint car racing.

"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."

The time for Stewart's sprint car return came on Friday night, just five days before Stewart hosts the second annual NASCAR Camping World Truck Series 1-800-CARCASH Mudsummer Classic at Eldora Speedway in Ohio (July 23, 9 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1). The event is the only current national series event held on dirt. Sprint Cup Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year contenders Austin Dillon and Kyle Larson -- last year's top two finishers -- will duel again for the win.


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