Back In the Saddle Again Tony Stewart Racing's Hines Set to Make First USAC Racing Series Appearance Since Late April Off-Road Motorcycle Accident INDIANAPOLIS (Nov. 7, 2007) -- Tony Stewart Racing's (TSR) Tracy Hines is set to make his ...
Back In the Saddle Again
Tony Stewart Racing's Hines Set to Make First USAC Racing Series Appearance Since Late April Off-Road Motorcycle Accident
INDIANAPOLIS (Nov. 7, 2007) -- Tony Stewart Racing's (TSR) Tracy Hines is set to make his return to racing this Thursday at Phoenix International Raceway (PIR) in the Copper World Classic event featuring the USAC National Midget Car Series. Hines, who was injured in an off-road motorcycle accident at his Indiana home on April 30, 2007, has undergone reconstructive knee surgery and several manipulation procedures to correct the damage he sustained to his lower extremities. He has participated in daily outpatient therapy at St. Vincent's Sports Performance in Indianapolis for the past few months and will continue to do so throughout his recovery.
Hines, who suffered a fractured pelvis, a fractured left femur and dislocated right knee, continued to work alongside his TSR teammates as a consultant throughout his recovery. In his last race prior to the accident, Hines finished ninth in USAC Sprint competition at team owner Tony Stewart's Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio. In his absence, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., has filled the seat of the No. 21 TSR/Chevrolet/Beast entry.
Prior to the first practice session on Thursday, Hines will evaluate the swelling in his knee to determine his racing status for Thursday's event at PIR. In Hines' last appearance at the facility on Jan. 22, 2006, he earned a 14th place finish at the one-mile oval.
Hines will not, however, compete in this weekend's USAC Sprint Series doubleheader at Phoenix's Manzanita Speedway but will attend the event to assist TSR's Jones and Stenhouse as they wrap up the 2007 USAC Sprint Series season.
Thursday's USAC Midget event at PIR will feature a 25-lap race. Gates will open at 10 a.m. MDT with practice schedule for 9:45 a.m. and 11:45 a.m. Qualifications will be held at 2:45 p.m. with the feature race starting at 7:45 p.m. The official Web site of PIR is www.phoenixinternationalraceway.com.
Quote from Tracy Hines, driver of the No. 21 TSR/Chevrolet/BEAST -- USAC National Midget Car Series
The TSR team has already built a car for the USAC Midget Series event at PIR on Thursday, but when will you make your final decision regarding your racing status?
"When I sit in the car on Thursday morning before the first practice session begins, I will make a decision as to whether or not I'm going to race. The swelling in my knee at that point will determine whether or not I'm going to be able to race, as it can hinder the range of movement. My trainer from St. Vincent's Sports Performance, Ralph Reiff, will be traveling to Phoenix with me. We'll work on to make sure my knee is stretched as well as it can be prior to Thursday morning."
What has been the most difficult part of sitting out this season as you recovered from your injuries?
"Probably all of the unknowns that we've faced. Not knowing how long my rehabilitation period was going to be, as well as determining how many surgeries I'd need to have to repair my knees has been hard. What's also been hard is not knowing if my right knee will ever regain a full range of motion. There are absolutely no worries on the racing end of this for me. I'm just as competitive as ever. It was a huge relief knowing that I had a job when I was well enough to race again, as Tony (Stewart, team owner) told me that I would have a ride whenever I was ready to come back. The support that the he and the team have given me over the past few months has been great."
Having sat out for the past few months, how do you prepare mentally for a return to racing?
"I've been working with the TSR team throughout my recovery on set-ups and other aspects so I'm pretty up to speed on everything that's going on at the shop. Following the setups has been a big help and I'm as up-to-date as ever on that end. I'm one of those guys who's always been able to keep things pretty light until it's time to strap in and take the green flag so I don't think it's going to be a big adjustment for me. Getting ready to race is kind of like second nature, it's not something you forget how to do."
What preparations have been made to the car in order to adjust it to the slight limitations your body will have as you continue to heal?
"The construction of the cockpit has been modified very slightly to adjust to the position I'll need to have my knee in for the race. We made a few modifications to the throttle pedal and we moved the seat back and up just a little bit. You normally don't want to do that, as you want the driver to be as up on the wheel as possible but we didn't give up much with those adjustments. We gave up one or two degrees of reaction in order to accommodate my knee as it continues to heal. I don't think it will be much of an issue."
What are your plans as the season comes to a close and you make your return to racing?
"We plan to compete at Phoenix this weekend with the USAC Midget Series but I'll sit out the dirt events at Manzanita Speedway on Friday and Saturday. As far as I've been able to come in the past few months, I don't want to take the chance of hitting or bruising my knee on the dirt. At this point, I plan to run the Turkey Night Grand Prix later this month as well. My first dirt track event will be the 2008 Chili Bowl."
Is there anyone you'd like to thank as you wrap up your rehabilitation and prepare to begin a new chapter in your racing career?
"I'd really like to thank Tony Stewart for all of his help and support during this process. My family and I had a lot of comfort in knowing that I'd have a job once I was ready to race again. I'd also like to thank the entire TSR team, as working with them, even in a wheelchair and on crutches, has helped me stay motivated to get back to racing as soon as possible. TSR's sponsors, such as Chevrolet and Bass Pro Shops, as their support has been unwavering over the past few months.
"My wife, Christa, and I also want to thank all of those people that helped us with the little things as I continued to recover. In the beginning, she couldn't leave me alone, so those friends who helped us with the grocery shopping, errands, etc., really made things easier for us. You take a lot for granted until you need help and it was great to have so many people who were willing to help us. And last, but not least, I'd like to thank St. Vincent's Sports Performance staff. Their dedication and effort in helping me get back on my feet sooner rather than later has been extremely appreciated. It's taken a lot of time and effort to get back into the car and I sincerely appreciate everyone's support."
For complete results from this Thursday's USAC Midget Series event, log on to www.usacracing.com. For information regarding TSR or Chevrolet, log on to www.tonystewartracing.com or www.chevrolet.com.