Continuation of the Tony Stewart press conference from Tuesday, September 3, 2013.
Part one can be found HERE
Q. Assuming you're not back in the car until Daytona Speedweeks, are you going to have Mark continue with the team into '14 to do the testing and development, and do you have somebody else that you're looking to bring in?
TONY STEWART: I'm all for Mark Martin doing all the testing he wants to do. I've never been a big fan of testing anyway. It's like watching paint dry to me. Like I mentioned earlier, if there's ever -- I don't know that you could pick anybody any better to -- if that scenario happens, I definitely hope he would be willing to do that, and would love to have him do that for us because he's been around the sport so long and he's so detail oriented, you couldn't ask for somebody better to go into test that probably would pay more attention than I would about what's going on with every detail. That would definitely be a great option for us.
Q. The busiest guy in racing goes from racing six nights a week to bedridden watching Oprah, and I guess that could go the other way where you could be woe-is-me and feeling bad about yourself, but you seem in good spirits and you look good, you look like you've lost some weight --
TONY STEWART: That was the goal. I thought, man, the only way I'm truly going to lose weight, because I'm not as dedicated as Mark is to the workout program, the only way I'm going to be able to do this is I'm going to have to break something so I can lose weight.
Q. Because that's something that I asked Zippy, is the mental part of it going to be harder than the physical part. So how did you overcome that, and did being here in Charlotte and that steady stream of visitors, because a lot of guys said they went to see you and they found you in good spirits, did being in this community help you with that?
TONY STEWART: Absolutely. You know, and something that was really overwhelming right off the bat was the first 36 hours after the accident happened. I couldn't even type a sentence on my phone to reply to text messages, but I had 850 text messages in the first 36 hours after the accident, and it was people -- I got one three days ago from Mark Webber from Formula 1 saying, "Call me; I had a similar injury," and just hope you're feeling better. The outreach from people from IndyCar racing, Sports Car racing, NASCAR racing, the sprint car community and the visitors that we had. There was a day that we had nine straight hours of visitors, and I didn't have a five-minute break between any of those. That's been a huge, huge asset, and keeping me motivated and my spirits up.
I'm kind of surprised myself to be honest; I'm surprised I've been this upbeat about it, and I don't know why. But I guess I just look at it as it's just a bump in the road. I've raced 36 years and never had an injury that lasted -- the worst injury I had was an IndyCar crash, and all I had was fractures, and there was no scars, there was no stitches, no anything that I had to look at. It was literally just waiting for it to heal enough that I was comfortable enough to even be in a car.
But it's been surprising to me. To go 35 years and run all the hundreds of races and thousands of races we've run, and to finally have an injury, it's like, this hasn't been a bad run of going out getting hurt.
It just seems like a small bump in the road. I guess if this was the fifth injury in a row that I've had that put me out of a race car, I'd probably feel worse about it. I'm one of those believers that everything happens for a reason, and I feel lucky that I guess if it's going to happen that the timing of it happened in a scenario where I'm not going to miss next year, I'm not going to miss a race.
It could have been a lot worse. I mean, physically it could have been a lot worse, but the scenario of everything else surrounding it could have been a lot worse than this. It's not that bad.
Darrell Gwynn came and saw me, and that's the one thing he said is he was really worried about me emotionally getting down. I spoke to him again this morning, and I guess a lot of people have been really surprised that we've been this upbeat about it. Got a lot of great friends and a lot of great friends that are drivers that I compete with each week that have been there to keep me pumped up.
Clint Bowyer has probably been my comic relief. When I know he's coming to the house, I clean everything up around my bed, I clean everything up around because I know I'm going to be laughing so hard I know I'm going to knock stuff on the floor.
I really wanted to wear a shirt that he brought me this week, and like everything else I want to do, like being on Twitter, it got vetoed by Mike. But it has -- it's just a black tee shirt, and it's got like the guy that's on the restroom door, the little stick guy, and he's got two crutches and the right leg is broke on the guy. But on top of that, it, with two letters in front of it "--it happens." And I thought, man, that's a perfect shirt to wear to this press conference today, but of course big brother is standing there over at the podium in his nice striped --
THE MODERATOR: I just wanted to keep you out of Twitter jail.
TONY STEWART: I've been thinking Twitter would have been a really good idea the last four weeks because I've got a lot of time to think and talk and reply to things. But again, I keep -- the battles that I keep losing, like you mentioned whether Gene would actually trump everything. I'm still getting trumped by guys that I pay. My life really hasn't changed much.
Q. We have a lot of folks listening on Sirius XM live on NASCAR radio, and all over it says #smokewillrise. What sort of reaction have you gotten from the fans who maybe didn't follow you but felt for you?
TONY STEWART: Well, I know Mike follows that. I don't even know how to look at Twitter to be honest. That actually was Mike's creation. But we've got so many cards and letters in the mail that have that at the bottom of it, and I think it's just something that everybody has kind of been able to grasp onto that reminds us all that we're down but we're not out, and we'll recover from this.
It's just, like I said, a bump in the road. I've got a stack of cards from fans just that have come to Eddie's house that is this tall, not to mention what we've got at our race shop here. I spoke to my mom yesterday, and the amount of cards that we've got there, and they've actually put a board up, and everybody that comes into our shop has wrote messages on the board, and it's just been overwhelming she said.
I know there's a lot of fans that haven't been able to talk to us that are supportive, and that's the stuff -- that's the things that help you when you're -- when I'm having a bad day at therapy and I don't feel like doing it or it hurts and you don't want to go those extra 10 minutes or whatever, that's the things that you put in your mind that help keep you motivated and wanting to push to get through this and get healthy, because it's not just for me, it's for 200 people here at Stewart-Haas Racing. It's so Mike won't yell at me, and it's for our fans. It's for the people that support us every week that miss me being in the race car.
Q. We know you support the Kurt Busch addition, but what are the things that are going to be really tough, and then where are you on Kevin Harvick's team, crew chief, team members, that sort of thing?
TONY STEWART: Well, we got a crew chief, and I think we're getting -- I think he will dictate the crew members on that team like every crew chief always does, but I think Zippy is more in tune with exactly the details of what all is going to be -- what all is going to have to happen to accommodate the fourth team, to get a lot of the new equipment that Gene wants to get through this process, and things that will help not only his car but all of our cars.
That's more a question for Zippy as far as every aspect of what it's going to take to do it. My role through this as well as healing is to be a cheerleader and keep Zippy pumped up. Like I said, he can't wait for me to get healed up because he wants to beat the crap out of me right now for getting him in this position. But he's been amazing through all this. This is a new -- this is a relatively new role. He's been in this role for two years now, but there's a lot that's going to be happening, and two winters in a row we're not going to be on cruise control like he would -- I don't think any team ever is in cruise control in the winter, you're always pushing hard, but this is going to be a different year just like last year was of getting new cars done last year.
Now it's going to be new equipment, making changes to the building, adding a second building on the lot next door. There's just a lot of stuff that's going to be new, and Zippy is really the spearhead of that whole thing and going to be the guy that's going to organize and orchestrate that.
Again, like we mentioned when we did the press conference about hiring Zippy, there's nobody I trust more through this process than him, and literally like when he said that he thought we could do this and it wasn't going to be fun and it wasn't going to be easy but we could do it, then that's what pushed me over the edge to say, okay, I'm in 100 percent with the timing of it, let's do it.
Q. (No microphone.)
TONY STEWART: Yes. Yeah. I don't know if we've done any formal announcements on that, but yeah.
THE MODERATOR: We just did.
TONY STEWART: Welcome to Tony doesn't remember protocol here. (Laughter.)
Q. Since the news of Kurt Busch came out, I was just wondering if you'd had a chance to have a heart-to-heart with Ryan, and are you guys okay at this point?
TONY STEWART: Ryan and my relationship is still the same. Since this has happened the last week, I really haven't had time to sit down with a heart-to-heart. Obviously he had a busy weekend with the Coke ride-along last week and the dinner on Thursday and then Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and during the weekend I wanted him to stay focused on what's going on. But I think today will answer a lot of his questions, but I still will have a conversation with him about it.
But the biggest thing is I want him to focus on what we're trying to accomplish this year, and even when we spoke earlier this year before we made the announcement at Loudon, we were both very adamant to each other that our friendship was going to stay the same and we both knew where each of us stood as far as the business side of this and understanding that it wasn't emotionally driven, that it was business driven, and that through this our friendship would stay the same, and this won't change that.
Q. In the immediate time after the accident, did you fear about losing your leg or the end of your career or something like that because this sounds like such a dramatic injury? And secondly, you mentioned earlier about coming in and running the team in essence for the last five years, now Gene is seemingly becoming more involved in some sense. What kind of an adjustment is that in trying to learn how to work with in essence a 50/50 partner as they start to assert themselves a little bit more?
TONY STEWART: Well, the great thing is for five years I've done all the press conferences, all the meet-and-greets, and I welcome Gene doing some of these. I don't think there's a shot that he'll do that.
But it's not really -- I welcome that change. Like I said, I'm proud that I have a partner that wants to be engaged and has steadily done that for the last five years and become more engaged as this has gone on. That's a good sign. I mean, for a guy that has a lot of responsibility of running a multimillion dollar CNC business, he's emotionally invested in this as much as he is financially. He keeps adding to that emotional side to it, too, which is great.
It makes me feel good that I feel like we're making him proud and that he wants to be more involved and more engaged in it. That's a great thing in any sport if you can have an owner that is becoming more engaged as he is. I don't know that you can ask for a better scenario than that.
As far as it being an adjustment, there will be. Obviously the last two weeks, we sat with him last Monday and said, listen, what are you going to say when you go down there tomorrow. He's like, I'll just wing it. I'm like, no, you can't do that. Speaking from experience you can't just wing it when you get down there. He called me two days later, and he goes, man, you were right. He read what was written and realized that you've got to think about it or more than just shooting from the hip with it.
I think it's as much of an adjustment for him as it is for me, but the good thing is we're both working for the same cause and the same results, and that side of it is pretty exciting.
Q. (No microphone.)
TONY STEWART: I honestly didn't know -- I didn't know what the extent of it was to be honest. You know, like I said, I'm kind of a -- I'm squeamish when it comes to -- I can't let them draw blood to do my physicals each year without looking at the ceiling and stuff. When it happened and when it was -- the doctor I told you that was the first one to me in the race car, he was also in the ambulance, and he tried at some point during the ride to somewhat explain to me what was going on, and I did this and said, I do not need to know. I don't want to hear it.
I learned a lot more about it after the first surgery when the doctor -- the surgeon came in when we got out of recovery and were coherent enough to understand what he was saying, and we realized the severity of it then. But the threat of losing the leg, I don't think it was ever to the point where there was a huge threat of it. There was a lot of trauma that went on with the leg obviously during that, but by the time the surgery was over, they had already overcome all that and got everything stable.
You know, I learned a lot more about it after it happened, but I guess during that process I was on a need-to-know basis, and I did not need to know, for sure.
Q. I know you said that you've been watching the races, all the gadgets and radios and stuff, but what do you see? What's your impression of watching the races? You've been in every Cup race since you started. What does it look like to you on TV?
TONY STEWART: Same as the replays look like when I watch them on Monday after the race. You know, I thought Atlanta was good. I don't know, with the way the race was going, I don't think anybody knew 20 laps from the end when we had that first restart, first of the last two restarts, I don't know how you could have planned who exactly was going to win. Kurt's restart was outstanding, and threading the needle, he drove by four cars in one corner on the restart there.
I guess it really hasn't changed my perspective of it because you always see the replays on Monday or Tuesday or you see the highlights of it. From that standpoint it really hasn't changed -- I guess I've been a little more engaged than just watching it on TV. I spend more time watching the lap times on the computer and watching exactly where the cars are and really stay focused on listening to the audio, listening to Mark's comments during the race and listening to my comments to how I talk about the car to Steve Addington and how Mark does, the language is totally different. But a couple weeks into it learning what he's wanting and trying to figure out, okay, what will we do in that scenario, and then I can scroll to Danica's channel and then I can scroll to Ryan's channel, and just going back and forth, I stay really busy during the race because I'm not only listening to what's going on in the 14 car but I'm really engaged with what all three cars are going through during the race.
Like I said, watching it on the computer, I'm not sitting back in a recliner getting a beer every commercial break and watching it on TV; I'm really engaged and got a lot more information than what they're just getting from the TV broadcast side of it.
Q. You get lauded for all your success in various forms of motorsports, but one thing that seems to have come out with this incident, particularly from Gene last week, is talking about how engaged you were here at Stewart-Haas Racing, and even you today talking about I was the one who said are we really sure we should do this next year, and Gene said last week, I want to spend this money, Tony can be the good businessman. Do you think that your contribution here as a business owner, as an owner, has been kind of overshadowed a little bit the last several years outside of just being a successful driver, how much you're engaged and what goes on here on kind of a day-to-day basis, considering how you entered it as being offered a half ownership?
TONY STEWART: I don't think so. I mean, I've got a great group of people here, and I've got Brett Frood, I've got Eddie Jarvis, I've got Mike Barone under Mike Arning. We've got a great group that run this business together. I don't run this business; there's a group that runs this business. That group has been intact for five years. The part that scared me when Gene and I spoke about all this is that for a split second I was actually the adult in the conversation, and that probably scared me more than anything through the process was that I actually was the one that used common sense and was like, wait, let's take a step back and think about this, and normally I'm the guy that's throwing the dart on the board and saying if it hits, yes, I'm full throttle and I'm out the door.
But I think that's part of what -- I think that's something that gained my respect with Gene a little bit was that he's wanting to spend a lot of money right now to do this project, and it would be very easy for me to say heck yes, give me the blank checks and let me go run with it. But for five years we've ran this like a business, and that's what he hired me for. He hired me to go out and win races but at the same time try to help this business along.
I don't have a business degree, but I've got a guy that works for me that has one hell of a business degree, and if you just pay attention a little bit, you can learn a lot, and whether it's the business guy or whether it's guys that just have common sense that we have here, you can learn a lot in a short amount of time, and you don't have to have a degree to make good educated decisions.
But through all this, it's not me making a decision, it's a whole group that makes the decision, and that makes this whole process a lot easier because I guess it's, like Gene mentioned last week, a very good checks-and-balance system of sometimes there's something that I think is a great idea, and somebody else may also think it's a great idea, but two other people may say, yeah, it seems like it's a good idea but these are the negatives to it. We've got a really good group that can look at whatever the topic is from a lot of different angles and really make an educated decision about it, and I think that's what makes us a really good company. It's not one or two people making the decisions; it's a group of people that sit down and try to find every positive to it and every negative to it before we pull the pin and make a decision one way or the other.
Q. Now that you're sprung from the house, are you going to resume more outside activities, and now that you're going to Richmond, are you going to be in a wheelchair at Richmond? How will you get around the racetrack? And are you in a walking boot?
TONY STEWART: I think it's a walking boot. I just got crutches Wednesday at the last appointment that I had with the doctor. If Eddie Jarvis had to push me around the racetrack this weekend in a wheelchair, we would have to stop every 100 feet for a smoke break, and I don't feel like I'm going to get around like I would like to in that scenario. If I tried to go on crutches, I would have to stop every 10 feet and I would have to have a smoke break, and I don't smoke, so I do have an alternate mode of transportation. There has been a little bit of thought put into this. I'll surprise you with it on Friday, but when you see it you'll realize that I've had a lot of spare time on my hands.
Q. Did you engineer something?
TONY STEWART: I don't engineer anything. I'm just the guy that comes up with the really stupid ideas. Believe it or not, I learned how to use the internet and how to shop on the internet, which has made me very, very dangerous to the accounting department. I should be done with my Christmas shopping in about a week. Gene has got the blank checks. Unfortunately my account doesn't tie into all of his accounts, unless he decides to adopt me any time in the next couple weeks, which I'm more than happy to do that. I think my parents would in this case perfectly understand, probably at this point in my life might be all right with it.
Q. Your most recent victory is the Rascal 500 right here, right?
TONY STEWART: Yeah, I'm actually proud to announce that I have returned to racing, 21 days after my life-threatening and potentially career-ending injury. We had a scooter race upstairs with Greg Park, who is one of our head financial guys, who uses a scooter to get around, as well, and we had the Rascal 500 upstairs around the engineering department and the marketing department upstairs where I was victorious, and there is some video -- not video, but we do have some photos of the victory lane celebration. I'm proud to announce that after 21 days I'm back in the winner's circle and not forgot how to win races. It may take a little longer for the second one, but the first one was successful.
Actually Kurt was the one that supplied me with the scooter, and he spent -- he went way above and beyond. It took him an hour and a half to build it Monday morning, and it took him about 15 minutes to show Eddie how to disassemble it and put it in the car and put it back together, which Eddie doesn't really understand how to do that. Luckily we have about 200 people that are smart that know how to put mechanical things together, so that's what I ride around at the shop in. Until I get stronger and can use the crutches more efficiently, it's a fairly large building, and I can get around in a scooter a lot easier.
The guys are a little more attentive when they know I'm here because it's electric, it doesn't make a lot of noise, and I definitely can sneak up on them. That's definitely keeping them on their toes.
Q. Since we've chatted with you, your driver Donny Schatz has a historic, incredible Knoxville National win and has gone on an amazing run in the World of Outlaws, and your other team Steve Kinser looks like he has picked up. Just assess going forward the final quarter of the season for your two STP World of Outlaws sprint car teams.
TONY STEWART: They're definitely gaining momentum. With the exception of the first night at Skagit, which was on Friday night last weekend, he has not finished outside the top two in points since I think a week or two before Knoxville, which has been an incredible run. He tied his personal best for feature wins for a season last night with 19, and we've still got a quarter of the season to go.
You know, Steve has been on his side with the 11 car, has had a similar year to us, was really struggling the first half of the year, ran third last night and has had a couple wins since then. He's gaining, as well.
His Bad Boy Buggies team is doing a great job, and Donny's STP team is doing a great job. I'm really proud of that side of the organization, as well. They've just been on a hot streak.
Being laid up in bed, being able to listen to Dirt Vision, that's part of my routine, and they're on what they call a hell tour this week. They went to Washington Friday and Saturday and then they had Sunday off, and then they raced, since yesterday, seven nights in a row.
The good thing is talking about being stir crazy in the house and everything every night, it gives me something to look forward to at the end of the day that I'm going to get to listen to my race cars race in the evening for the next seven straight days, when I'll go to the Cup race and watch my cars run. I've got a lot to keep me busy, but I think they're doing a really good job.
Q. Have you gotten to sit down and talk with Kurt yet? And second, you and Kurt had some pretty hellacious run-ins in years past, just as Kurt and Harvick did, and Kurt and Harvick seem to be like this this year. Is that something that racers get through when they become teammates easier than us civilians think you maybe be able to?
TONY STEWART: Well, I think it's kind of been inevitable at some point that all three of us during different stages are going to start growing up, and I don't know that all three of us have completed that process yet, but I think to a certain degree and certain level, all three of us have made huge gains in that area.
You know, I think the good thing is, especially for Kurt's side, it's a new organization, and it's the same with Kevin. But Kevin and I have raced with each other. I raced for him in the Nationwide car quite a bit, so we've worked together a lot. Kurt and I haven't had the chance to work together, but I really think it's an asset for Kurt to have both myself and Kevin as a support system, I guess, and to lean on each other. I think that's something that will help the growing of him coming to the organization.
I told the crew guys, I said, there's no doubt in my mind that through the hiring process, we're definitely going to have to hire a lot more people for the team. There's going to be two really key positions that we're going to have to fill, and that's, one, a therapist for me, and the second one is the therapist for the rest of the team. But it's going to be fun. I think there's a lot more positives than -- everybody is looking at this as oh, my God, this is an atomic bomb that can get set off at any moment.
I look as it the opposite way; I think the fact that we've all been through this to a certain degree and we all don't want to get back in that mode again, I think whether I get frustrated and those two guys calm me down or it's one of the other two and the two of us calm them down, I think it's a good support system for each other. But I think we all look at it as a positive that we all three as well as Danica -- I mean, Danica is good at calming scenarios down with us. She was a little wound up in the trailer. I think we've got four people that can sit there and really work well together and can contribute, and they're passionate and can go out and be competitive.
I think that makes it really encouraging for what we have in store for the team next year.
Q. I just wondered, a lot of people like to go home when they're hurt or whatever, and it sounds like it's going to be almost more difficult for you to go home now with your mobility and everything, and I wondered if you do get here, will you be able to do some of the things you really like to do, whether that's fishing or whatever?
TONY STEWART: Yeah, I mean, I actually got approval through the doctor, and Eddie has been, like I said, a huge part of this. I'm going to get to go to Richmond this weekend, which I'm excited about. I'm excited to not only spend time with my teams but at the same time get the opportunity to see other teams and NASCAR officials that I miss. But I am going to get to go home back to Indiana for a couple days after the Richmond race, and I'm really looking forward to that.
I'm not going to get to do a lot of things I like to do, which is get on a tractor or get a beer and go out in the woods and do a lot of things I want to do, but just getting to go home, as much as I love being at Eddie and Dana's house, at the same time I want to go home just to get them some sense of normalcy for a couple days and let them get their life back for a little bit and not have to babysit me.
I'm pretty sure that fishing is not going to be too bad a strain on my leg, so I'm pretty confident I'll get a couple days of that in before I have to come back. But like I mentioned earlier, if my therapy means I have to be down here, the biggest thing is getting my leg healed up and getting ready for the next season. If it has to be down here and I don't get to go home, that's just part of it and that's part of the bump in road. But we'll do what we have to do to get healthy again.
Q. While you were in a hospital bed, I was also in one. I had a heart ablation, so I kind of can relate to -- I was only four days in a hospital bed, but I'd kind of like for you to share what it's like to be all of a sudden, oh, man, this is a whole thing of life. What would you say to people that are mostly ambulatory all the time and in good shape and everything else, how fortunate they are and how much a hospital bed, as much as you need them, they're not much fun?
TONY STEWART: From the sound of it, it's affected your life more than mine. You know, I don't think it's necessarily a scenario where people take it for granted. I think we all know somebody that's had an injury or had an illness that they've had to be in the hospital, and you see how it affects them and how it affects their families. But the big thing is, like I said, we've had a huge support system of people that not only came to the house to visit but people that have texted and called, and it makes you forget about the fact that you're hurt, and probably in more aspects it reminds you how good of friends you have and how much you mean to people that you really don't realize how much you mean to them, and that, I guess, to me far outweighs whatever injury I've got. The injury will heal, but having that sense of knowing how much people care about you probably means more than how long the injury is going to take.
Q. Did it surprise you that some of the fans who might not have liked Tony Stewart were so gracious to you when you were injured?
TONY STEWART: I wasn't aware of that, but that's pretty cool. Like I say, there's one thing that Dale Sr. taught me a long time ago. In 2000 or 2001, we were riding in a truck together, and I went across during driver intros, and I got into it with somebody the week before, and it wasn't very popular. I think 50 percent of the crowd booed and 50 percent cheered, and when we got in the truck together and were riding around, he knew I was pretty disappointed about hearing it. He goes, well, kid, you've finally made it. He goes, whether they booed you or cheered you, everybody made a response, and if you're making them respond one way or the other, you mean something to them one way or the other. That's something that even an injury like this, if it means something to you, whether they liked you or disliked you, you mean that much to them that they respond, I guess that's a good thing.
Q. You talked about coming back for Daytona. What is the comfort point as to the date that the doctors have got to inform you that it's a go or no-go for you to be ready for Daytona? Is it months? Is it weeks? What is the time frame or cutoff point for words from the doctors and also the point to let NASCAR know?
TONY STEWART: I'm honestly not sure. I think the doctor is very, very confident that it could be even earlier than that. The one thing that when we spoke about a time frame, I think at first he thought how soon can we be back in a race car, and my question to him was more just on the average, if we don't have any setbacks and we don't have any problems and everything goes according to schedule, what's a comfortable time frame, and he said the end of December to the beginning -- I mean, end of January to the beginning of February.
You know, like I said, this isn't -- we don't have to push anything to get accomplished what we're trying to accomplish here, and the biggest thing is we're trying to accomplish not having a setback. I'm not sure what that time frame is of what a cutoff is necessarily. I don't think we're even thinking that way because we're pretty confident that minus any setbacks we're going to be there and be ready to go.
I think if there's any setbacks then obviously we'll address it as it happens, but as far as our mindset and focus, we're focusing on being ready for Daytona and being ready to go 100 percent.
Q. Obviously you talked about listening to the radio and being engaged with the team, but do you watch these races at all with like a pit in your stomach or a sadness or a disappointment that you're not out there either competing for trophies or for the Chase?
TONY STEWART: Yeah, I mean, as a driver you always want to be out there. I mean, I didn't have 115 races on my schedule because I don't like racing. You definitely want to be in the car.
But I think what makes it easier to watch each week is none of this has been a scenario where I've had to make a decision to be in the car or pull myself out of the car. This decision was very cut and dried, and it was not an option. There was not an option of me going and possibly getting in the car this weekend. That would be a lot harder to do.
This is a very cut-and-dried injury, and I don't have that option right now.
Knowing that there's not an option of if we push and work really hard we can make it before the end of the year, I guess it takes some of that out of there, and it shifts your focus from wanting to be in the car to what can we do and what's in the best interest of the team and how can we do everything we can to make it as good as possible.
I guess that's kind of what's made it easier as far as that standpoint of being able to turn the TV on and watch, and like I said, when I turn it on and watch and I see the car on the track, I'm excited because I want to see where the splitter is at, I want to see the attitude of the car, I want to see if it's tight, if it's loose. I just look at it from a different perspective now than what I'm used to, and I'm just in a different role now. I'll pick up my normal role at Daytona, but until then, I've got work -- I've got plenty of things to keep me occupied and busy, and staying engaged with the team is something that's really important to me right now.
Q. And you talked about doing fewer races, that maybe you were a little bit tired. Did you feel like fatigue played any role just as far as reaction time in the accident itself?
TONY STEWART: No, not at all. I mean, what hurt the reaction time was the fact that there was just dust that I couldn't see through. I looked at the video, and it looks like I'm driving off the nose wing of the car like I'm not even paying attention. But it's hard from the camera angle to see what the dust was that we had to go through, and we were just running so fast there, it's no different than a stock car crash where the car is sitting there and guys get in the wreck late. I was the first one to the scene of the crash, but it wasn't because I wasn't paying attention or was tired or anything. I mean, we started getting caught up, our schedule had started slowing down a little bit after Indy weekend. I felt like we were fine from that side. Physically I was fine doing what I was doing. It just was a weird incident that normally doesn't happen and I've never seen happen.
Q. You just mentioned how you're watching how the spoiler is sitting and the attitude of the car and that sort of thing. Is this time away from being behind the wheel maybe helping you become a better driver for when you return? Do you think you're learning more from just watching and being involved in I guess a semi-pit crew or crew chief manner?
TONY STEWART: Just make no mistakes, I'm not qualified to even make a call on air pressure on the car, let alone anything else that's going on. I don't think honestly there's anything that's making me a better driver. I guess I look at it from the standpoint that I can lay in bed and watch TV all day or I can be excited about when the cars are going to be on TV and I can watch them go around the track and just pay attention and listen to their comments and stay engaged with what's going on.
You know, I'm not -- I can sit there and look at it and then listen to his comments and put what I'm seeing visually to what I'm hearing or put what I'm hearing and be able to see it visually on the racetrack, and that helps me understand more what's going on during practice and during the race.
But it's not making me any smarter, trust me. I'm not gaining much while I'm laying in bed right now.
Q. With all know how much respect and admiration you have for AJ Foyt, and unfortunately now you share something in common with him in terms of you're probably not going to be walking the way you'd like to for the foreseeable future. Have you talked to him and offered any advice for somebody like yourself who's gone through a major accident and ended up pretty well?
TONY STEWART: We really haven't talked about the injuries very much. The funny thing is he goes, yeah, we're both laid up right now, but the difference is he's old and I'm middle aged. He's supposed to not get around that great right now, and I should be getting around great.
No, I cherish every time I get to talk to him on the phone, and when he's called he's just calling and checking to see how you're feeling, and he just is upbeat on the phone. We don't talk about what happened. We talk about what his cars did that weekend, we talk about how our cars ran this weekend on this side, and we just enjoy each other's conversation during the phone calls, and that's something I really appreciate.
Q. Do any of the four of you have plans to do any Nationwide races next year that you know of?
TONY STEWART: You know, I normally only run the Daytona race, and I'm not sure if we are going to have plans to do that or not. I think a lot of it will depend on how the healing process is going. But I honestly don't know on Danica's side or Kevin's side or Kurt's side what they have planned. I don't object to them running Nationwide races, even Kurt's side as far as running -- if he can get something put together to run at California for an IndyCar race or even Indy 500 in Danica, and Kurt if they have interest in doing that.
I don't object to it; now, Zippy and Gene might have objections to that, and like I say, if that's the case we'll sit down as a group and figure it out. But other than the Daytona race, that would be the only Nationwide race that I would have on my schedule for next year.
Part one can be found HERE