! UPDATE Tony Stewart will be out for at least the next few weeks and in all likelihood will miss the Chase (source: USA Today).
ORIGINAL STORY BELOW
Well, it happened. The iconic Tony Stewart known to most as ‘Smoke’ may well have smoked his chances at making the NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase, doing what he probably loves to do more than drive stock cars and that’s drive sprint cars. If you didn’t already know, Monday night, Stewart broke his right leg while driving a winged-sprint car at Southern Iowa Speedway in Oskaloosa, Iowa, about an hour southwest of Des Moines.
The 42 year old Stewart, a three-time Cup champion, was involved in a four-car wreck *(see video – source Fox Sports) while battling upfront at the Front Row Challenge race that Brian Brown eventually won with NASCAR Nationwide regular Kyle Larson second – regular Kevin Swindell was third. Smoke was taken by ambulance to the hospital. Tony had surgery early Tuesday morning to repair a broken tibia and fibula. More surgery will be needed and it’s not known when Stewart will return to racing as no further details were given.
Replaced by Max
He will miss Watkins Glen this weekend with the popular Max Papis filling in for Stewart (source: Yahoo! Sports). How much longer he remains out is not clear, but injuries like this require four to eight weeks to recover from.
As racing fans know, Stewart loves to race and in fact, one of the main reasons he wanted his own team was so he could race whenever he wanted as Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) was not willing to give Smoke free reign while he drove for JGR. Stewart has always defended driving sprints, in part, because that’s what he loves – he owns the popular Eldora Speedway – plus, he defended the danger angle by saying he had the latest safety equipment and a chassis that was heavier than most. It was stated earlier this year that Tony would be in over 50 sprint car events in 2013 (source: OneDirt).
Oskaloosa has had a fond place in Smoke’s heart for 30 years as it was the first place he ever won a go-kart race at. However, the dangers of racing in general go up with more laps around a track and the odds finally caught up with Tony.
Three wrecks in a month
This wreck isn’t his first this year. Just in the last month or so near Rochester, N.Y., he was at fault at Canandaigua Motorsports Park for a wreck that resulted in a young woman breaking her back – similar to what Denny Hamlin of JGR had earlier this year in a Cup car accident at Fontana. A couple weeks later, Smoke had a horrendous crash at Ohsweken Speedway which is about a half an hour outside of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.
In any event, Tony Stewart’s season appears to hang in the balance. There are several drivers who could catch and pass him in points for the Chase. Although Stewart does have a victory, if he falls far enough in the standings, he could lose one of the Wildcards because he will be too far back. There are only four more races after Watkins Glen before the playoffs start.
Some will say the sponsors won’t be happy with Smoke and that might be true. However, they understand he races when he wants – that has been Stewart’s motto. Yes, it seems he will not be racing when he wants … at least for a little while. He may miss the Chase because of the injury; nevertheless, don’t expect this to change Tony Stewart.
* (see video – source Fox Sports)
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