Tony Stewart will be sidelined from NASCAR racing for a while after breaking his leg in a sprint-car crash in Iowa on Monday night.
Stewart, who never lost consciousness in the wreck, underwent surgery in an Oskaloosa hospital to repair a broken right tibia and fibula. He will not race this weekend in the Sprint Cup race at Watkins Glen and it’s unknown how long he will be sidelined.
Stewart was leading the 30-lap feature race with five laps left when a car driven by Josh Higday spun and took him out, along with cars driven by Tasker Phillips and Tony Shilling.
“At that time we were on the back straightaway,” driver Tony Bruce Jr. told The Des Moines Register. “By the time I got there, all I saw was carnage. Cars and parts and pieces laying every which direction and it looked pretty bad.”
The injury is particularly ill-timed given that Stewart is 11th in the NASCAR standings with fives races left to set the Chase for the Sprint Cup field. With so much at stake in the NASCAR season, Stewart has taken criticism for racing at dirt tracks during the week. He flipped five times last week at an Ontario track and caused a multicar wreck July 16 at a Canandaigua, N.Y., track. Stewart pugnaciously defended his dirt-track racing last weekend.
“You mortals have got to learn,” Stewart said after finishing ninth in a NASCAR race at Pocono Raceway on Sunday. “You guys need to watch more sprint car videos and stuff. It was not a big deal. It’s starting to get annoying this week about that, so that was just an average sprint car wreck. When they wreck, they get upside down like that. That was not a big deal.”
Besides, there’s something else at play: love.
“That’s the risk I know he’s willing to take because he enjoys sprint car racing and a lot of people don’t understand why he would do such a thing, but I do,” Bruce said. “Almost every single person in this pit area loves sprint car racing and will literally mortgage their house and everything they’ve got to go do it. I know right now it’s kind of getting a bad rap, because people are dying and getting injured really bad. But at the same time, we all know that’s the risk. Heck, you could die in a street car probably easier than you could die in a race car.”