NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drive Tony Stewart took his first laps in his No. 14 Chevrolet on Friday night since he broke two bones in his right leg in a dirt track racing accident last August.
After participating in Friday's practice session for the Sprint Unlimited, Stewart spoke to the media.
Q: How did it feel?
"It felt good. The great thing is there is zero percentage of pain in the car. That was nice. We will see what it feels like at 9 o’clock tonight, but so far so good. That is better than I was hoping for, honestly. I thought we would have some kind of ache, pain of some kind that would bother us. It was like putting on an old pair of shoes again."
Q: At what point were you smiling?
"When we hit the end of pit road leaving. That is way too long to wait to get back in a race car that is for sure."
Q: Is it a relief or are you just overjoyed?
“Well a little of both. I think once we got the relief of knowing we weren’t hurting anywhere then it was just joy of being back out there again. It didn’t feel like I had been gone seven months when we started running. It was today though, every five minutes I was looking at the clock from 3 o’clock on going ‘is it 4:30 yet’ because I wanted to get dressed at 4:30 and come in. That is a long time to be staring at the clock for an hour and a half. That is small compared to the seven months.”
Q: You got in the car about 18 minutes early, which seems early for you.
“I told them don’t get too excited that is not going to be a habit. So I’m logging courtesy minutes so if that way I’m late for practice I got that credit."
Q: After you get your helmet on what is going through your mind? What are you thinking?
"Just waiting. I didn’t want to wait anymore to be honest. The biggest thing was going in there, as soon as I got in the car, I’ve sat in that car three times now. I still had to move the mirror when I got in there one more time. We just wanted to give ourselves a couple of minutes so we weren’t thrashing at the last second if there was something we needed to move. Sure enough I had to move my mirror.”
Q: Was the walk to the car any different? Were you anxious; were you excited, just normal or typical?
"I just put one foot in front of the other like I do every time I got to the car."