On Tuesday, three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Tony Stewart spoke to the media for the first time since suffering two broken bones in his right leg during a Sprint Car race at Southern Iowa Speedway in early August.
During the press conference, Stewart discussed issues that have come up since his injury, relating to his sprint car racing and the decision by Stewart-Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas to expand SHR to four teams, bringing Kurt Busch onboard to drive a fourth Chevrolet for the organization in 2014.
During a press conference held by Haas, SHR competition director Greg Zipadelli, and Busch last week, Haas said that the decision to expand Stewart-Haas Racing to four teams, adding Busch to the 2014 driver roster, was his and that Stewart wasn't onboard with the decision, at first. That statement resulted in speculation that Haas took advantage of Stewart being out of commission and hired Busch to expand the team behind Stewart's back.
Stewart, on Tuesday, cleared that up.
"You know, it was his (Haas) choice to add Kurt to the organization, not me," Stewart said. "I really, truly was 100 percent behind it. I was just concerned about the timeframe. The rest of it about everybody's perception that we're fighting and arguing -- there was never one argument between us. I just expressed my concern about the timing of it, and it was no more elevated than the conversation you and I are having right here."
And as far as the decision to hire Busch and expand the team not long after the announcement came that Ryan Newman was being released because of a lack of sponsorship goes, Stewart isn't happy with the assumption that the powers that be (including himself) at Stewart-Haas deceived Newman. Stewart said that his relationship with Newman hadn't changed.
"I'll be honest, when I heard Kyle Petty say that we deceived Ryan Newman, I pretty much quit watching the talk shows and went to just watching the qualifying shows, the practices and the race," Stewart said. "I'm kind of used to hearing some of that. I'm glad I'm at the race track and don’t see those shows because I was a little disappointed with it."
Although he's been out of the car for several weeks now, Stewart hasn't been completely out of the loop. He made sure to stress that he's still going to work, aside from not climbing into his race car. Soon-to-be employee Busch got him a scooter that he's using to make his rounds at the shop.
"I've been a part of meetings for the last three weeks," Stewart said. "I haven't really missed work. I mean, the only part of my job that I've missed as far as responsibilities to this company is, I haven't been in the race car. Granted, I'm not trying to downplay that, but I am going to Tallahassee, Fla., tomorrow to a Bass Pro Shops appearance. I'm going to be in Richmond on Thursday. I'm not missing work. I'll have missed one appearance since this has happened, and other than being out of the race car, that's all I've missed."
But in his free time, Stewart admits that he's been watching a lot of Oprah, sleeping and missing the hot girls at the race track.
Stewart has also had a lot of time to think about his extracurricular activities, i.e. his Sprint Car racing. He admitted on Tuesday that he was going to have to scale back that part of his life. But he also stressed that conclusion didn't come as a result of his injury. Instead, it was because he was spreading himself way too thin.
"As far as getting back in a sprint car, this year was the most aggressive schedule that we had planned, and even if I was 100 percent healthy, I wouldn't plan on racing 70 races again next year," Stewart said. "I think I was a little aggressive on my schedule, as far as how many dates I wanted to run. But even with that, some of the places that we went to, some of them are tracks that I'm like, ah, it's probably not a place I want to go back to next year. I am going to get back in a car, eventually. There's no time frame on when I'm going to get back in one, but I'm definitely going to cut back on the amount of races, just on scheduling purposes more than anything."
Besides, Stewart's discovered Oprah and more sleep.