Tony Stewart climbed back behind the wheel of an open wheel Sprint Car this week for the first time since suffering a severely broken leg in a race last August. And while the former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion said called the test "a huge day for me," he downplayed its importance when speaking to the media today at Dover international Speedway.
“I am laughing at you guys because it’s like. `My God, I went and tested a Sprint Car,’” he said. “I still laugh about how big a deal this has all been made. We had Cup drivers get hurt last year. One had a broken wrist, one had a broken back and nobody said anything. It was all minor news. I’ve made more news by getting hurt in a dirt car than any of those guys.
“It’s bigger news than the guy who had the same injury I had falling off a bicycle last week. I just chuckle.
“It was fun (and) obviously, it’s been nine and a half months since I got a chance to run one,” said Stewart. “It felt good. We actually did a full-blown test, it wasn’t just going out and making laps. We actually got a chance to run through a lot of shock stuff and set-up stuff. (I’m) ready to go again.
“It was just like when I got (back) in the Cup car. I felt like I hadn’t been out of it.”
The three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champ said he has thought about returning to Sprint Car competition again soon, but will not publicize his plans in advance.
|Stewart tested this week|
Stewart called his return to dirt racing, “nobody else’s decision but mine. It’s my life (and) I’m going to live my life. I think there are a lot worse things I could be doing with my life than what I choose to do.”
Stewart said that while he had hoped to be fully rehabbed by now, he is not discouraged by the length of his recovery.
“I honestly thought I would be done with all this by now,” he admitted. “As far as rehab, pain (and) all that stuff, I thought it would all be done. I thought I would be healed 100-percent by now. But I keep going to the doctor on my scheduled appointments and they keep updating me on how it’s going and what they think the outlook is for it.
“We just adjust (the timeline),” he said. “When you haven’t gone through something like this, you don’t know what to think. You don’t know how to feel about it… because you’ve never been through it. If it ever happens again, I will have a better idea of how to answer that. You just take it a day at a time, still.”
He said that while he continues to work out daily as part of his rehab regimen, he has yet to learn to enjoy it.
“I hate it,” he admitted. “You sweat; you get out of breath… it is crazy. Then you feel sore. I don’t know anything about this (process) that is good, but I know at the end of the day that it’s going to make me feel a lot better.”