Stewart Eager to Resume Therapy
By: Dustin Long - @dustinlong on October 15, 2013 | 9:13 P.M. EST
Tony Stewart, speaking last month with Jeff Gordon at Richmond, says he's been humbled by the support from so many. (Photo: Getty Images)
Tony Stewart says he’s eager for his doctor’s appointment Wednesday to see how an infection that has sidetracked his recovery is healing.
Stewart said in a video chat Tuesday night on NASCAR.com that the third surgery on his broken right leg Oct. 7 was because of the infection.
“That was the biggest thing they talked about after the surgery,’’ said Stewart, who had two surgeries shortly after he broke his right leg in a sprint car crash Aug. 5 in Iowa. “I was more worried about bones healing and skin healing. The doctor was more worried about infection and really said the first two months were kind of the critical time. We were at the end of that two months for the most part and, all of a sudden, a spot popped up that was infected and that caused the surgery last week.
“I went from starting to walk again - not great, not just walking around the house like normal, but I could take eight or 10 steps at a time - to having to spend the majority of the day again (after the surgery) laying down.’’
Stewart said he’s thought about Wednesday’s doctor visit for the last three days. He’s curious to see how his leg is healing since the infected area has been wrapped.
“I’m really looking forward to getting back to physical therapy again and starting to get back on my feet again,’’ he said.
Stewart admits it’s been “tough’’ being out of the car but he talked on the NASCAR.com chat about the response from fans when he’s been at the track.
“The humbling part is even people that may have some other driver’s shirt on, they come by and say, “Get healed up soon, we miss you being at the track.’ That’s something that’s really meant a lot to me.’’
Team officials say that Stewart is still expected to be ready for the start of next season.
When he returns, he’ll have two new teammates in Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch, who both join Stewart-Haas Racing. Danica Patrick returns.
The time out of the car has given Stewart more of a chance to asses his team and Patrick in particular. After Mark Martin fell out of Saturday’s race at Charlotte with engine troubles, Stewart said he focused on Patrick’s performance.
“It was fun to watch Danica,’’ Stewart said. “I’ve watched her enough now that I can tell without even looking at a stopwatch if she’s comfortable in the car or not. This weekend she finished two laps down (in 20th), but there was a point in the race where second, third and fourth and caught her and got around her, but she raced with those cars. She actually ran them back down.
“You can tell she really is good at learning and watching other people and being around good cars. If we can get her qualified a little better and she gets starting around better cars, I think it’s really going to turn her around.’’
Stewart also took fan questions during the NASCAR.com chat on a variety of topics during the chat, which lasted about 30 minutes.
Asked what’s left in his bucket list in NASCAR, Stewart said: “Still a Southern 500 win. I haven’t won at Kentucky, and a Daytona 500. If I could accomplish those three things, I would never complain about anything ever again when it comes to my NASCAR career, I would say it’s completed.
“I think Daytona is still the toughest. It’s just so hard. The cars are so even at Daytona and Talladega. If you can stay in the lead draft, you’ve got an opportunity to win. It’s being at the right place at the right time.’’
Asked what race he’d like to run over again, Stewart said: “Losing the one to Ryan Newman (in the 2008 Daytona 500) ... that’s one I would like to do over again, which the end result may have ended up with me crashing by changing lanes. I saw him coming. They were coming at such a high rate of speed that I was scared that if I tried to change lanes and make him have to push me that it was going to wreck me and a bunch of other people. Just to test that theory out, I did that a year ago at Talladega and crashed the whole field instead.’’
Asked about his expectations next year for Stewart-Haas Racing with all the changes, Stewart said: “I feel like if we can get through all the building and expansion and get focused on building the racecars for next year, I think the possibilities are endless for next year. Kurt and Kevin have a great working relationship because of their RCR tie now. Dancia and I work really well together. I think the four of us will work well together. The theory is that if two is better than one, then four should be better than three. Hopefully, we can do a good job of getting not only Kevin’s team turned around with new people but at the same time building a new team for Kurt.’’