NASCAR

Don't count Stewart out yet

HARD CHOICES
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Tony Stewart.
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Jeff Hammond

Jeff Hammond is a former NASCAR crew chief who led Darrell Waltrip to two of his three Sprint Cup championships. The duo also teamed up to win the 1989 Daytona 500. Prior to that, Hammond was the jackman for Cale Yarborough for all three of his Cup championships. He has 43 Sprint Cup wins as a crew chief. Follow him on Twitter.

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When I heard the news about Tony Stewart breaking his leg Monday night in a dirt track race, I immediately had a flashback to Darrell Waltrip when he got his leg broke in 1990 at the end of practice in Daytona. Fans are asking the same questions now about Tony as they did about DW back then. Is he done for the year?

STAR POWER

Three-time champ Tony Stewart's impact goes beyond driving. Check out his top accomplishments.

My point is there are a lot of variables still out there that we don’t know about, so we shouldn’t be automatically writing off Tony and his season. Back in 1990, DW couldn’t use a clutch, so we came up with a hand clutch for him so he could shift the car without using his leg.

There’s a possibility that Tony could use a hand throttle. Now let’s be clear. I am not suggesting that all this happens so that Tony can race. I am saying just do enough so that Tony can start the race for the points and then immediately turn it over to a relief driver.

Tony is looking at the scenario that Denny Hamlin faced earlier this year with NASCAR. How bad is the injury? Is it bad enough where NASCAR might feel Tony would be a hazard to others out there on the race track and even more so to himself.

Understand it’s not so much whether Tony wants to, because we all know how he’d answer that, but it’s more if NASCAR and the medical side would allow it. Everyone at Stewart-Haas Racing is facing some uphill decisions and very, very little time to make them. I’ve been in their position and I truly don’t envy their position.

Also don’t lose sight of the fact that we don’t have any down time in the near future, so that’s going to add to the strain of the healing process. There simply isn’t a week or two off giving Tony the possibility of getting healed up. The bottomline is if Tony decides he wants to race, then he is facing enduring a lot of pain from his broken right leg.
 

Tagged: Tony Stewart

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