5 reasons to be optimistic about Tony Stewart returning soon
With Tony Stewart sidelined with a back injury but expected to return to racing at some point in 2016, here are five good reasons why the three-time Sprint Cup Series champion will be back behind the wheel of the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevy sooner rather than later.
Jerry Markland/Getty Images
He has come back from injury before
Remember in 2013 when Stewart broke his right leg in a crash while participating in a sprint-car race in Iowa? Despite missing the final 15 races of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season and undergoing multiple leg surgeries, Stewart returned to the grid for Daytona Speedweeks 2014 after months of rehab. If anyone knows what it takes to heal up from a major injury, it's the three-time champion.
Getty ImagesJerry Markland
He's in better physical shape
During last month's preseason media tour in Charlotte, Stewart told reporters that he'd recently made some big lifestyle adjustments. 'I've changed my diet,' Stewart said. 'I've changed everything for this year. If anybody has any questions as to how dedicated we are to having the best year we can possibly have, that's their answer.' Being healthier certainly can't hurt his quest for a speedy recovery.
NASCAR via Getty ImagesStreeter Lecka
He desperately wants to finish his career strong
After a downright rotten 2015 that followed difficult seasons both on and off the track in 2013 and 2014, Stewart expressed hopes of finishing out his career with a solid 2016. Much like Jeff Gordon in 2015, Stewart wants to ride off into the sunset on his 'A' game. The motivation to go out on top and forget about the last three years can only serve as extra motivation for Stewart to get back behind the wheel as soon as he possibly can.
Getty Images for NASCARTodd Warshaw
He wears many hats, which keep him busy
It's not as if Stewart has nothing to occupy his mind during his time away from the seat. He does, after all, own a dirt track (Eldora Speedway), a traveling sprint-car series and multiple sprint car teams, in addition to his role as co-owner of Stewart-Haas Racing. His involvement in all these will help him keep a positive attitude over the next few weeks and perhaps months -- which can only help the healing process.
NASCAR via Getty ImagesChris Graythen
He has a determination and passion that are unsurpassed
Is there a more fiery, determined driver in NASCAR than Tony Stewart? Even with his struggles the past few years, Stewart clearly still has the passion and drive to succeed. Over the course of his illustrious career he's had a special penchant for beating long odds when his back has been against the wall. This is the same driver, remember, who ripped off five wins in 10 Chase races to win the 2011 title after going winless in the regular season. While Stewart's skills may have regressed a bit in the past few years, it's never a good idea to bet against one as resilient as 'Smoke.'