Where Theres Smoke Theres Fire

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NEW YORK – As NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series champion Tony Stewart continued his busy slate of media interviews, appearances and social functions in New York, the rest of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10 drivers arrived in the city and joined Stewart in Tuesday's activities.

A highlight of Tuesday's "NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Champion's Week presented by Sprint" schedule was a visit to the FDNY New York Fire Academy in Manhattan.

Stewart met the probationary officers, who are still undergoing training and affectionately dubbed "probys" by their fellow firefighters. Stewart also participated in a few training exercises, led by FDNY Fitness Instructor, Lieutenant Mike Cacciola.

Earlier, Stewart, Jimmie Johnson, Carl Edwards, Kurt Busch and Brian Vickers attended a fundraising event for the Staten Island University Hospital's Pediatric Burn Center.

Witnessing the intensive training exercises at the fire academy and spending time with the burn center's youngest patients provided a day of reflection for NASCAR's biggest stars.

"It's unbelievable, I have to pinch myself everyday," said Edwards. "To be able to do what we're doing and to be in New York City, taking the helicopter over Manhattan, it's just unreal. I got to see the Statue of Liberty for the first time. This whole thing is just unreal to me. I'm glad to be here."

For Busch, who was the center of attention as the 2004 champion, Tuesday's trip brought back fond memories of his own Champion's Week experience.

"I'm able to enjoy things a bit better this year," said Busch. "It gives me a vision and a memory of what it meant last year to win the championship. These great people in Staten Island, and just to make the hospital visit, that's something I didn't get the chance to do last year. Every time I get the chance to come to New York as a top 10 driver, I'll enjoy it.

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