Joking that he still must not be feeling well because he had actually missed the various media in attendance, NASCAR Sprint Cup three-time champion Tony Stewart spent well over an hour today discussing various matters during his first press conference following a sprint car accident August fifth in Oskaloosa, Iowa in which he suffered a severely broken leg that ended his 2013 racing season.
Stewart was in an upbeat if not altogether jovial mood as he discussed the accident and its aftermath. The primary point he made was that the current schedule has him back in a race car in February of next year, thus putting him in a position to run the entire 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup season.
Stewart laid to rest various rumors concerning a disagreement between him and Gene Haas, co-owner with Stewart of Stewart-Hass Racing, regarding Haas' signing of 2004 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion and lightning rod for controversy Kurt Busch to create a fourth Stewart-Haas team next year. As Stewart explained, "It wasn't as dramatic as he (Haas) made it sound. He told me on a Monday, and then that Thursday there was a contract. The biggest thing was Greg Zipadelli saying, 'We can do this. It may not be fun or easy, but we can do it.'" Stewart further commented that his main concern was whether it would be possible to put together a fourth team period in the available time period and not bringing Busch on board.
As to his accident and whether he felt any remorse over participating in sprint car races at the risk of jeopardizing his participation in Sprint Cup, Stewart responded, "It's just life, guys. Things happen every day that you can't guard against. I'm going to live my life to the fullest in the limited amount of time I have on this earth. It doesn't mean I can do what I want." He later added, "This (the accident) hasn't cut anyone's paycheck. It hasn't stopped anyone from working. Certainly it's been great having Mark Martin driving the car. I've been attending meetings most every day. The only part of work I'm missing is me driving the car. It was an accident."
On the subject of Stewart-Haas driver Danica Patrick Stewart commented, "I knew this would be a learning year for her. I was impressed with her race on Saturday (at Atlanta Motor Speedway in which Patrick finished twenty-first). Every week is a learning week. I'm not judging her by her finishing positions; it's by what we talk about on Monday and what she is learning."
The oft-displayed Stewart sense of humor came out once again when asked what he most missed about being at the track to which he immediately replied, "The hot girls. When you're laying in bed, there's not much traffic going through your bedroom. You'd think after three Sprint Cup championships and everything I've done in racing I could get at least one hot nurse."
Stewart will be piloting a tricked-out scooter when he attends this weekend's race at Richmond International Raceway, the first race he will be at since the accident.