Tony Stewart eyes Daytona 500 return

September 4, 2013

Tony Stewart isn’t getting around as quickly as he used to. (Chuck Burton / AP)

His mode of conveyance had two wheels rather than four and moved considerably slower than he would like, but the same old wiseguy was steering Tuesday, joking about his broken leg and jawing with members of the media who came to pepper Tony Stewart with questions for the first time since his dirt-car accident last month.

Stewart, in a wheelchair and a boot, said he’s recovering well after having surgery to repair two broken bones in his leg. In fact, like Adrian Peterson, Robert Griffin III and Lindsey Vonn, he’s lapping the field in recovery, he said.

“Everything is going according to schedule and may actually be a little bit ahead of schedule,” Stewart said, alternating between serious and Shecky in a press conference at Stewart-Haas headquarters in Kannapolis, N.C.

He expects to be ready to race in the Daytona 500 in February, but it was still disconcerting to see him using a wheelchair nearly a month after the Aug. 5 accident in Oskaloosa, Iowa. Doctors have told him that his recovery will be “100 percent,” but, Stewart admitted that staying focused on rehab helps keep his mind off just how devastating an injury he suffered.

“This is definitely the worst injury I’ve ever had in my life and racing career,” he said (via News-Observer.com). “It’s definitely been a big change from being probably one of the busiest drivers on the schedule to being in bed seven days a week, 24 hours a day.”

Stewart is recovering at the home of his business manager, Eddie Jarvis, and plans to make his first appearance this weekend — probably on a scooter — in Richmond, Va. Stewart said he had planned to cut back from his controversial, 70 sprint-race schedule even before the wreck, but wasn’t blaming his heavy schedule for the crash.

“It’s just life, guys,” he said (via USA Today). “Things happen every day. You can’t spend your whole life trying to guard against something happening. If you do that, in my opinion, you’ve wasted your life. I’m going to take full advantage of whatever time I’ve got on this earth. I’m going to get my money’s worth. You can bet your butt on that.”

He has been given crutches, but hasn’t used them much yet and, asked the worst part about being away from racing, joked that he misses “the hot girls.”

“I mean, when you’re laying in bed, there’s not much traffic going through my room,” he said. “I thought surely three Cup championships, an IndyCar championship, winning the USAC triple crown, a national championship in ’94, that I could get one hot nurse during this whole thing, and I got Eddie Jarvis to take care of me.”

Ah, the wisecracking Stewart. When he isn’t watching “Oprah” or racing Stewart-Haas employees from his wheelchair, he is using his down time in other productive ways, he joked. “I learned how to use the internet. I should be done with my Christmas shopping in about a week.”

The media session lasted 90 minutes, which kind of shows how bored he must be with life in the slow lane.

“Oddly enough, I actually miss you guys, which tells you that I’m not healthy yet.”

Follow @CindyBoren on Twitter and on Facebook.

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After spending most of her career in traditional print sports journalism, Cindy began blogging and tweeting, first as NFL/Redskins editor, and, since August 2010, at The Early Lead. She also is the social media editor for Sports.
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Caitlin Dewey | September 3, 2013