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Stewart goes under knife for third time on broken right leg

Infection forces Smoke’s surgery

Published: Thursday, Oct. 17, 2013 11:57 p.m. CDT
(Nick Wass)
Tony Stewart, seen here Sept. 28 in Dover, Del., had a third surgery on his broken right leg Oct. 7, this time for an infection that cropped up since his last surgery. He still anticipates being ready to drive in the Daytona 500 in February. (AP Photo/Nick Wass, File)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The third surgery on Tony Stewart’s broken right leg was for an infection that “popped up” after the three-time NASCAR champion had begun walking a bit again.

Stewart underwent his third operation Oct. 7, and said during a video chat Tuesday night on NASCAR.com that the risk of infection was something doctors had warned him about after his injury in an August sprint car crash.

“I was more worried about bones healing and skin healing,” he said. “The doctor was more worried about infection, and really said the first 2 months were kind of the critical time. We were at the end of that 2 months, for the most part, and all of a sudden, a spot popped up that was infected and that caused the surgery last week.

“I went from starting to walk again – not great, not just walking around the house like normal, but I could take eight or 10 steps at a time – to having to spend the majority of the day again laying down.”

Stewart is still on track to be back in the car for the season-opening Daytona 500 in February.

During the chat, Stewart fielded questions from fans who submitted them through social media. He was asked what his biggest concern was before NASCAR’s inaugural Truck Series race this year at the Stewart-owned Eldora Speedway dirt track.

“Weather. That was the one thing we couldn’t control, was the weather,” Stewart said. “It’s not like a pavement track where you can bring a jet dryer out and, 2 hours later, have the track back in shape. You are blowing mud around. If it rains at the right time, it puts you out for the whole night.”

Asked if NASCAR would ever race Nationwide or the Sprint Cup Series on dirt, or at Eldora, Stewart said he didn’t know.

“I never thought I would see the Truck Series there; the Truck Series proves that anything can happen,” he said.

Stewart also said participation in the Coca-Cola’s promotional Racing Family has helped mend relationships between drivers. He feuded with Joey Logano earlier this year, and Logano and Denny Hamlin are still not on speaking terms following a series of early-season incidents that culminated in a last-lap accident between the two at California in which Hamlin suffered a fractured vertebra.

All three drivers are in the Coca-Cola family, which requires several appearances together and commercial shoots.

“The outtakes are almost better than the commercials,” Stewart said. “When you hear everybody talk about the Coca-Cola Racing Family, it really is a family. It’s a family atmosphere. Even the dysfunctional family that we are with Denny and Joey and myself now, we are the three brothers that disagree sometimes.

“But still when we do this stuff, we still get along with each other, we still have fun, and we all forget about the stuff that happens on the race track. It’s one of the few opportunities where we get to be around each other and not worry about racing.”

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