Tony Stewart breaks leg, will miss NASCAR Sprint Cup Watkins Glen race

UPDATE Greg Zipadelli again updated the media Friday morning at Watkins Glen. Some notes:

  • The team has not settled on any replacement drivers, but hope to know who will drive at Michigan before this weekend is over
  • They would prefer to use as few drivers as possible, for the sake of consistency;
  • The team is looking at some Nationwide drivers, but would likely not use one until Bristol because Nationwide is at Mid-Ohio next weekend for a stand-alone event
  • Stewart's return is unknown. His release from hospital is "day by day" due to the possibility of an infection


2014 Championship hopes over?

NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Tony Stewart was transported to an Iowa hospital Monday night following an accident in a Sprint Car race. Stewart underwent surgery for a broken tibia and fibula in his right leg.

Stewart was driving a 360 sprint car, in an August 5th American Sprint Car Series race, at the Southern Iowa Speedway in Oskaloosa-Iowa. According to reports, Stewart was leading the race with five laps remaining when a lapped car spun in front of him. The contact collected Stewart's car, as well as two others. Stewart's car reportedly slid into the infield area where it flipped over on it cage.

Stewart's love of driving in sprint car races, in between his NASCAR Sprint Cup schedule, is well known. Unfortunately, his extracurricular activities has hit a rough patch lately. Monday night marks his third, spectacular, sprint car accident in a brief period of only 20 days.

The first incident occurred back on July 16th at the Canandaigua Motorsports Park in New York state where Stewart accidentally triggered a ten car incident. Unfortunately Alysha Ruggles, a 19 year driver from the local area, suffered a broken vertebrae in her back from this crash.

On July 29th Stewart was racing at the Ohsweken Speedway, in Ontario-Canada, where he hit a dirt cushion in a turn and flipped his sprint car end over end five times. Stewart walked away from this accident.

Monday night's injury means that Stewart will not be driving his #14 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet in next Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Watkins Glen-New York. Sadly, missing Sunday's race will likely mean that Stewart will not make the line up for the 2013 Sprint Cup Chase For The Championship. There has yet to be an announcement from Stewart-Haas regarding who will drive Stewart's car at Watkins Glen.

Track officials said Stewart was conscious and talking to responders after being placed on a stretcher.

Brian Brown raced to victory, holding off Kyle Larson after the restart.

“First and foremost, we’re concerned about Tony and making sure he’s all right," Brown said. “He’s a huge asset to our sport, especially sprint car racing and an icon in the whole motorsports field. Anytime you see him wreck like that and then leave in an ambulance, it’s never good. Hopefully he’s OK. We weren’t going to win that race. We were probably going to run third or fourth."

Brown added: “When I saw the wreck, I turned left and hit an infield tire and kept going. It was just luck."

Asked what he saw of Stewart's situation, Brown said: “It looked like he got into a lapped car. When I got close, he was flipping cage down. I didn’t really have time to watch and see what was going on."

Brown went on to explain how he avoided the wreck.

“Luckily we’ve got good brakes and I was able to turn left and that tire didn’t hurt us too much," Brown said. “I plowed one of those tractor tires and just kept going. That was my only choice. It was either that or run into them. I chose the infield."

Larson, one of NASCAR's rising stars, described what he observed when the wreck occurred.

“I didn’t see how it happened, I just saw cars going everywhere," Larson said. “I had to duck through the infield and luckily I missed it."

Larson added: “I saw Brian monster truck that tire. I actually clipped the tire before that wreck going into that corner. Luckily it got me out of shape enough to go through the infield."

Larson, 21, is similar to Stewart in that he loves racing anything with four wheels. Larson is among the leaders in the Nationwide Series. Stewart is a former Indy Racing League star and now is among the best in Sprint Cup.

“He grew up racing open-wheel dirt stuff like I’ve been doing. He’s probably the best race car driver ever."

As for the similarities?

“Me and Tony do a lot of the same things, racing every night that we can," Larson said. "I suppose that’s what makes us both special and we’re both good at it. Let’s hope he’s all right."

Driver Tony Bruce Jr. said the wreck area was filled with debris.

“At that time we were on the back straightaway," Bruce said. “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. I knew it looked pretty bad, but hopefully Stewart is OK and he’ll be able to continue his day job on Sunday."

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