07/21 17:49 CDT Tony Stewart riding high from sprint car victory
Tony Stewart riding high from sprint car victory
AP Auto Racing Writer
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) --- Tony Stewart heads into the busiest week of his year
riding high from a win in his return to sprint car racing.
Stewart raced in a sprint car last weekend for the first time since he broke
his leg in an extracurricular race last August. He missed the final 15 weeks of
the NASCAR season with the injury.
He vowed he would continue to live his life, and made good on that promise
Friday night when he climbed into a car at Tri-City Motor Speedway in Illinois
and won. He also raced Saturday night at Crystal Motor Speedway in Michigan,
where he finished third.
"It felt great," said Stewart, who picked a pair of low-profile races to make
his return instead of joining the World of Outlaws, home to the top sprint car
"The Outlaw series was in Pennsylvania, so that's probably the toughest place
in the country to try to go back. It's probably the toughest race to go to,
period," Stewart said. "I didn't feel like that was probably the best place to
try to go back for the first time. But it was neat to get back in the car,
finally, in a scenario that was low pressure."
So what's next? More racing, but Stewart said his schedule will be lighter than
The three-time NASCAR champion discussed extracurricular racing with his
management team and Stewart-Haas Racing competition Greg Zipadelli and mapped
out a schedule that Stewart will follow. They decided on tracks with slower
speeds out of safety concerns.
"There are some races that I really have my heart set on running," he said.
"I'm trying to be smart about where we're going."
On Monday, Stewart was headed to Eldora Speedway, the dirt track he owns in
Rossburg, Ohio. He'll be hands-on the next two days as his staff prepares to
host NASCAR's Truck Series race on Wednesday for the second consecutive year.
"It's about as close to being a proud father as I can imagine being," he said.
"Anybody that thinks that putting on a single NASCAR event is easy ... People
think you start working I think a week ahead of time to get ready for stuff
like this, and it's been a very large, eye-opening experience for me. It takes
months and months of work, and so many details."
When the checkered flag falls on the trucks, Stewart will shift to Indianapolis
Motor Speedway to prepare for Sunday's Sprint Cup race. The two-time Brickyard
winner returns to his home track winless on the season and 19th in the
standings, but hopeful he can get a breakthrough victory on the hallowed
It doesn't hurt, Stewart believes, that he won in his sprint car last weekend.
"Everybody loves good juju," he laughed. "It was more than just a good way to
start the week. It was a confidence boost for me. When you haven't won, and you
haven't been necessarily a contender to be in the top two or three each week
and having those opportunities to win races, you start questioning what is it
in the equation that you're missing. To be able to go out and win on Friday
night and run third on Saturday night, and to have two good runs like that in a
car that I haven't been in for almost a full year now, that was a huge
confidence boost and made me feel like, hey, maybe we'll just find something