Tony Stewart Returns To Racing

The cars Tony Stewart will race Feb. 14-23 during Budweiser Speedweeks at Daytona International Speedway: the No. 14 Mobil 1/Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet SS for the Sprint Unlimited, and the No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS for the Budweiser Duel and Daytona 500. [Credit: CIA Stock Photography for True Speed Communication]

After Tony Stewart crashed in a sprint car at a short track in Iowa last August and broke his right leg, there has been much speculation and anticipation regarding his return to NASCAR Sprint Cup Series racing.

After the crash optimists thought he would return before the end of the 2013 season while pessimists speculated that he would continue to miss races into the 2014 season.

While the healing and recovery from injuries may have taken longer than Stewart thought and a few setbacks needed to be overcome, the final fifteen races in the 2013 season are all that the fiery driver is going to miss.  Stewart, or Smoke as he is nicknamed, is ready to return at Daytona.

“I’ve had to sit through the end of last season and the whole offseason,” said Stewart, “so I feel like I could get in a car right now and go race.  There’s isn’t any anxiety as far as what’s going to happen, it’s more about being anxious to get started and get going again. I think that probably will override any pain that may exist once we get back in our Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet.”

Getting ready to get back in the race car after breaking both his right tibia and fibula meant a lot of work required much physical therapy but Stewart and his Stewart-Haas Racing team took further steps.  Fabricating what Stewart likes to call a “government project” the team has done everything they can think of to have their driver ready for Daytona.

“I actually had our shop build a deal with a seat, a steering wheel and a steering column, with pedals in it for us to use in therapy,” Stewart explained about the “project”.  “There really isn’t anything we do in therapy where you just sit and hold a pedal down for 20 minutes. We don’t have the time at therapy to do that so we had them build something that simulates the conditions of being in the car and having to maintain the pressure of having your foot on the throttle. We put a lot of thought into what we could do to make it better, make it more real so as to cover every angle that we could so we’re as prepared as possible for the start of the season.”

Ready as ever to get back on track, there are still some unknowns for Stewart.

“I’ll still have to deal with G-forces, vibrations and all of the things that a racecar driver navigates,” Stewart said.  “We obviously won’t know exactly how the leg will respond and the amount of pain there may be until I’m in the car for the practice session before the Sprint Unlimited. Those are variables we still don’t know yet, but the stuff that we’re doing in therapy – it’s very encouraging. We’ve made really big steps and I don’t think it’s going to be anything that’s going to bother us in the car in all reality.”

Two practice sessions for the Sprint Unlimited at Daytona are scheduled on Friday, February 14th and the seventy-five lap race will hit the high banked track at 8 pm eastern on Saturday the 15th.

Qualifying for the 56th running of the Daytona 500 is scheduled for Saturday, February 16th.  The series returns to the track on Wednesday the 19th for two practice sessions ahead of Thursday’s Budweiser Duels at 7pm eastern.  One final practice is scheduled on Saturday morning in advance of Daytona 500 on Sunday, February 23rd at 1pm eastern.

A future NASCAR Hall of Fame driver and one of the best in all of motorsports returns to the track and all you’ll have to do is look towards the front of the pack to see Tony Stewart, back in the #14.

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