Maybe Tony Stewart should just skip Fridays at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill.
For the second straight year, Stewart crashed during the Friday practice, forcing him to move to a backup car.
A year ago, it was just a bump in the road. The uninjured Stewart jumped into the backup car later the same day, qualified 10th and wound up knocking Kasey Kahne out of the way as he raced to a victory on the 11/2-mile oval two days later.
This time, there was no jumping. Stewart climbed gingerly out of the driver's side window after slapping the wall with the right side of his No. 20 Chevrolet and sliding into the infield grass.
Stewart appeared a bit wobbly when helped to the ambulance for the mandatory ride to the infield care center. He later was taken to a nearby hospital for precautionary X-rays and a CAT Scan.
J.J. Yeley, who drives a Busch series car for Joe Gibbs Racing, shook down the backup Cup car in practice and qualified it for the USG Sheetrock 400.
Nextel Cup series points leader Jimmie Johnson won the pole with a lap at 188.147 mph in a Chevrolet. Ryan Newman took the outside of the front row in a Dodge.
Yeley, the last of 47 drivers to hit the track, put the car in the 13th position. But Stewart, who will have a chance to practice in the backup on Saturday, will have to start from the back of the 43-car field if, as expected, he replaces Yeley on Sunday.
The tests were negative and Stewart was back at the track by late afternoon, resting in his motor home.
"J.J. did a really nice job in the car and we decided to let him qualify the car and let Tony just rest and relax and be ready to do a great job on Sunday," crew chief Greg Zipadelli said. "It isn't the greatest situation to be in, but you've got to play the cards you're dealt."
Fortunately for Stewart, he seems to need little practice time on a track where he has finished third, second and first over the past three years.
-- From News Services