NASCAR driver Tony Stewart recovering from leg surgery

August 7, 2013

Personnel prepare to load NASCAR driver Tony Stewart into an ambulance after being involved in a four-car wreck at Southern Iowa Speedway in Oskaloosa, Iowa. Stewart underwent successful surgery Tuesday to repair the broken right tibia and fibula suffered in the wreck, but will need a second surgery and remains hospitalized. (Mary Willie/AP)

Three-time NASCAR champion Tony Stewart remains in an Iowa hospital recovering from a surgery he underwent Tuesday morning to stabilize his broken right leg. Stewart’s racing team, Stewart-Haas Racing, said he will need a second surgery.

The 42-year-old Stewart broke both his right tibia and fibula Monday after flipping his car while leading in a race at Southern Iowa Speedway in Oskaloosa. There is no timetable for his return to racing.

Stewart-Haas Racing does not know how many races Tony Stewart will miss.. . .

Competition director Greg Zipadelli says Stewart dodged so many close-calls over the years, “everybody around us didn’t think Superman could get hurt.”

Associated Press

Stewart schedules roughly 70 dirt track events per year, according to NASCAR’s Web site, and has taken critcism for what some see as risks not worth taking.

Although he believes it not to be true, whenever Stewart drives a sprint car he jeopardizes his vast empire.

Motorsports is inherently hazardous and as we have seen injuries happen on any level no matter the safety measures in place.. . .

But sprint car racing is a discipline with even more risk involved. Many of the small tracks Stewart frequently competes at don’t have SAFER barriers or on-site medical facilities.. . .

Former NASCAR driver Jason Leffler, a close friend of Stewart’s, was killed in June. Two weeks before Leffler’s death another driver died after a crash at an Indiana track. And on Sunday, Sprint Car Hall of Famer Kramer Williamson succumbed to injuries sustained from a wreck.

And if Stewart needed further reminders of why he should curtail racing sprint cars, he himself has been involved in two other high-profile incidents within the past three weeks.

Stewart started a multi-car wreck June 16 at Canandaigua (N.Y.) Motorsports Park that saw a 19-year-old driver fracture her back. And last week, a day after finishing fourth in the Brickyard 400, he was in Ontario when his sprint car jumped sideways, flipping five times. He would walk away uninjured from both wrecks.

SB Nation

But some of his fellow racers, like Dale Earnhardt Jr., have no problem with Stewart’s decision to participate in numerous dirt track races.

“Tony loves to race, and I think he should race as much as he wants,” Earnhardt told USA TODAY Sports at Hendrick Motorsports headquarters, where he launched the team’s new social media command center. “There’s danger in racing. These types of things are going to happen.

“I think he can do whatever he wants to do. He’s having fun living his life. You’ve got one life, man. You can’t sit there and sit on the sidelines worrying about what’s going to happen to you. You’ve got to get out there and do it. He’s just doing what he enjoys. Everybody else understands the risk and reward, and it was worth it to him.”

USA TODAY Sports

Stewart, one of racing’s most popular figures, wrote to fans on his Facebook page, assuring them that he will return to the racetrack.

“I told someone to go get my phone or else I was going to get up and get it myself. Finally got reconnected to the world and just want to say thank you for all the prayers and well wishes. My team will remain strong and I will be back.”

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Kelyn Soong is a news aide and blogger and covers high school tennis for The Washington Post sports section.
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