Smoke Is Ready To Rise Again At Daytona
“The time wasn’t the worst part; the pain was the worst part of it, for sure,” Stewart said. “That’s a level of pain I’ve never had before. You’d think having the ability to lay in bed, you get comfortable. I’ve never spent so much time laying in bed feeling uncomfortable in my life.
“I’m actually more comfortable sitting in a car than I am laying in bed at the end of the day. Sitting in the racecar the last couple weeks getting everything done, it feels even more comfortable than the street car. If we can figure out how to take the seat and pedals out of the car, lay it back 40 degrees; I could sleep like a baby for the first time in a long time.
“We’re comfortable in the car. Even being in a street car, that’s been the norm for the last four months. It’s more comfortable sitting in a car than it is sitting in a chair or sitting in bed.
“I feel good enough that I’m confident we’re not going to have to worry about anything. Like I said, we’ve planned for anything that we think might or could go wrong. When I say ‘go wrong’, it’s not anything that’s going to take us out of the racecar, it’s just a matter of making everything as comfortable as possible.”
And one of those items designed to make the driver more comfortable is known as a “Knee Knocker.” It’s a pad that hangs off the steering column and keeps a driver’s knees from going back and forth along with a leg brace on the outside and a leg brace on the inside. The purpose is to keep a driver’s knees from hitting the steering column.
“Kevin Harvick didn’t even ask me, he just went and ordered them,” Stewart said of the 2003 Brickyard winner who has joined Stewart Haas Racing this season. “He runs those knee knockers on the steering column and told me ‘You’re running this.’ He didn’t leave it as an option. I showed up, it was on my car. ‘You’re running this.’ It shows what kind of teammates I have and what friends I have.
“Getting in and out of the car wasn’t as big a drama as what I thought. That’s what my initial concern was when he told me he was putting it in there. But we’ve been to the shop, worked on getting in and out. It’s pretty fluid now.”
Stewart’s healing process is lengthy because there were so many gaps in the broken bones that have to be regenerated. He has a titanium rod in his leg to provide strength.
It also makes him a bit of a “weather forecaster” because the rod serves as a weather vane.
“You’re not kidding,” Stewart quipped. “When that weather came through last night, I knew it an hour before it got here. It’s a barometer. I’ve had troubles with migraines before. I have a primary and backup system that is going to tell you what the weather is going to do. I could have predicted within an hour when it was going to snow in Charlotte.
“That’s one thing that is frustrating. We came down, the weather is nice, it felt good. All of a sudden it got cold, the rain came. All of a sudden I got sore. This morning it’s not as sore as it was last night but not as good as when we got down here. It constantly goes up and down and it’s going to do that for a long time.”
After Friday night’s practice, next up for Stewart is practice for Daytona 500 qualifying on Saturday with the Sprint Unlimited on Saturday night. All four of the Stewart Haas Racing drivers are in the 75-lap Sprint Unlimited including 2005 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year and former IndyCar Series winner Danica Patrick, newcomers Kurt Busch and Harvick and of course, Stewart.
The preliminary race gives Stewart hopes that one of his drivers can win it, including himself.