Opinion: After latest setback, Tony Stewart needs good news

BY foxsports • February 2, 2016

"Whether the NFL, the NBA, Major League Baseball, the NHL, you want to finish on top. That's the way every athlete wants to finish." -- Tony Stewart

Tony Stewart's odds of finishing his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career on top got a whole lot tougher after a crash of an all-terrain (ATV) vehicle Sunday that landed him in an undisclosed West Coast hospital. A team spokesman from Stewart-Haas Racing said Tuesday that an update on Stewart's condition is unlikely to come before late Thursday afternoon.

There's no point in speculating about the severity of Stewart's injuries, but the fact that an update won't be forthcoming for a couple of days is worrisome in and of itself. For Stewart's sake, I hope he has a speedy and full recovery and does go on to enjoy success this season.

God knows, the three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion is ready for some good news.

Ever since Stewart's horrifying sprint car crash at an Iowa dirt track in August 2013, he has struggled on and off the track. Although he was cleared of any criminal wrongdoing in the death of Kevin Ward Jr. in a sprint car crash a year later, Stewart admitted the incident left him permanently changed. How could it not?

I've known Stewart for a long time, and he's a complicated guy. He is a fierce, hot-tempered competitor on the track, and off the track he does not suffer fools gladly. He can be -- and often is -- brusque, profane and cranky.

And he has a heart of gold, one that people outside of his inner circle rarely see. He has helped innumerable young racers over the years and just like with the late Dale Earnhardt, the one rule about charity with Stewart is that you don't talk about Stewart's charity. He never did good works to draw attention to himself; he did them to help others without the expectation of recognition or repayment.

Over the years, I've seen a lot of both sides and can tell you the Good Tony far, far outweighs the Bad Tony. Not even close.

Whether Stewart can race at Daytona or how long he will be out remains to be seen.

Whenever a driver is sidelined, there's always a scramble for fill-in talent, and this time of year the pickings tend to be slim, which could be a challenge for Stewart-Haas Racing if Stewart is indeed sidelined.

The one consolation -- in NASCAR, sometimes truth really is stranger than fiction. Last year, who would have ever believed Kyle Busch would miss 11 races and come back to win the Sprint Cup championship? But that's just what happened.

So maybe the unlikely is not the impossible and Stewart can recover and go out with a strong finish to his final season. Like everyone else, we'll just have to wait and see.

For now, we send get-well wishes to Stewart for a complete recovery. Get back in the saddle soon, Smoke. NASCAR needs you for one more year.