Stewart Says Injured Leg is Ahead of Schedule
By: Dustin Long - @dustinlong on January 9, 2014 | 2:31 P.M. EST
Tony Stewart says he will race sprint cars again this season but doesn't have his schedule set yet. (Photo: Getty Images)
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Tony Stewart says he won’t be 100 percent when he climbs into a NASCAR Sprint Cup car next month at Daytona International Speedway but “I’ll be able to do my job 100 percent.’’
Stewart said Thursday that his recovery from a broken leg is ahead of schedule. He suffered the injury Aug. 5 in a sprint car crash in Iowa and has had three surgeries since, the most recent Oct. 7.
“It’s continuing to get better,’’ Stewart said of his right leg. “We’ve got four more weeks to get ready for that. Luckily, this is a smooth racetrack. If it were Dover, I would be a lot more concerned. But the hard part with here is you’re just ... on the the gas so long. That’s the only thing we’re worried about right now.’’
That’s a concern because of the constant pressure on his foot and toes pushing the accelerator. He said in December that a focus of his therapy would be strengthening those areas. Stewart planned to resume his therapy Friday night after returning from the Preseason Thunder testing at Daytona.
“I feel like we’re doing the right stuff to get ready,’’ he said.
Even with his progress, Stewart is not taking part in testing at Daytona. Mark Martin will be in his car.
Stewart reaffirmed that he’ll continue to run sprint car races but his schedule is not set. Stewart said he has a sponsor.
“The Cup car is the priority right now and making sure that we’re comfortable there,’’ said Stewart, who sat in a Cup car about three weeks ago to get his seat fitted.
He admitted he would need more recovery time to be ready for a sprint car because of how much the car bounces on those tracks.
As he pushes forward, so does his team. Stewart-Haas Racing grows to four teams this season with Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch joining Danica Patrick and Stewart this season. Also joining the team are crew chiefs Chad Johnston (paired with Stewart) and Rodney Childers (paired with Harvick). Daniel Knost, an engineer with Ryan Newman’s team last season, will be Busch’s crew chief.
“I think every week we, for sure, have three guys that can go out and win the race, and I think on the fourth driver, I think Danica has got potential to be more consistent this year,’’ Stewart said.
“I think realistically we could get three cars in the Chase. It wouldn’t surprise me at all. I’d almost be a little disappointed if all three of these cars don’t make the Chase by the end of the year. It’s not that we’re discounting Danica, but it’s still a work in progress. She’s still learning.’’