Stewart: “I’m Going To Get My Money’s Worth”
Stewart says he will cut back his sprint car schedule, but he will not quit racing open-wheel cars.
“I am going to get back in a car eventually,” he explained. “There’s no time frame on when I’m going to get back in one, but I’m definitely going to cut back the amount of races, just on scheduling purposes more than anything. I was starting to tell I was getting a little bit tired around Brickyard time, and that was — we had the truck race that week, which was a lot of stress, and we had a lot of races scheduled in the two weeks prior to that.
“Definitely going to cut back quite a bit, and a lot of that is — it’s not been pressure from the sponsors. Everybody has been — our sponsors have been absolutely amazing through this whole thing,” Stewart said. “Everybody at Exxon Mobil, all the executives there have either sent text messages to me on the phone or sent us letters to the house. Johnny Morris is one of my best friends, and he came to the house and saw us.
“You know, there’s definitely concern they want me to be healthy. They want me to be 100 percent health-wise, and every one of them is worried about my safety, and obviously the sprint car topic has been a little bit of a sensitive topic with them, and a lot of them just don’t understand everything about sprint car racing, so it’s easy to understand their side from that.”
Stewart says he believes sprint car racing will be come safer partially because of his accident.
“Jerry Russell, who used to own Eagle Chassis, is developing a torque tube tunnel, which is kind of like a drive shaft tunnel like we have in the Cup cars for the same reason,” Stewart said. “Jeannie Butler and ButlerBuilt here in Charlotte have already been working on tether systems for the front of the sprint cars, where Jimmy Carr, my crew chief, has already been working on issues in the torque tube that he thinks can be addressed plus tethers for the back of the car to make sure that the rear end coming back like it did that actually caused the problem will be addressed.
“The great thing is, it’s kind of a movement similar to when Dale (Earnhardt) Sr. crashed and how it sparked a movement of safety, and in stock car racing it’s been really impressive to see how many companies and groups have really started looking at how can we make things better.”
Still, Stewart defended open-wheel racing.
“Reading some of the articles from people, from writers that don’t know anything about sprint car racing, what they wrote has just devastated the sprint car community,” he said. “I think that’s been a big part in why some of these manufacturers have got involved and are trying to say, ‘Hey, this isn’t as dangerous as everybody thinks it is, but we can make it better.’ There’s going to be something positive come out, just like in NASCAR. There’s no formal group like NASCAR put together to actually do this, but it’s independent manufacturers that are saying we’re going to figure something out, and that’s pretty impressive to see.”