Skip to content

Melancholy return: Tony Stewart goes back to Iowa, site of worst crash of his racing career

Aug 8, 2014, 7:00 AM EDT

(Photo: Cyndee Bonkowski) (Photo: Cyndee Bonkowski)

KNOXVILLE, Iowa – Being back in Iowa this week has been bittersweet for three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart.

While he considers the Hawkeye State almost like a second home because of all the time he’s spent there over his career, particularly when it comes to sprint car racing, Iowa also brings back some horrendous memories.

It was on August 5, 2013 that Stewart suffered the worst injury of his roughly three-decade racing career, incurring several fractures in his right leg.

One year and a day later, Stewart was back in Iowa for Wednesday’s charity go-kart event at Slideways Karting Center, about two miles north of Knoxville Speedway, where the annual Knoxville Nationals are being held throughout this weekend.

Stewart admitted that he flew back to Iowa after last Sunday’s race at Pocono, where he was caught up in the big 13-car wreck.

He then returned to the same site where he suffered the injury, Southern Iowa Speedway, a half-mile dirt oval in Oskaloosa, Iowa.

In a way, it was a cathartic return for Stewart.

“I went back out to Oskaloosa for the race,” Stewart told MotorSportsTalk about watching the same event he crashed in last year, fracturing both the tibia and fibula in his right leg.

“I wasn’t going to miss it regardless,” Stewart said. “My intention was actually to run (at Oskaloosa), but I’ve run four (sprint car) races this year and haven’t raced enough to be able to run good out there yet. I need to race some more.”

Before they all headed to New York state for this weekend’s race at Watkins Glen International, Stewart was joined in Knoxville for much of the week with fellow NASCAR stars Jeff Gordon, Kasey Kahne and Kyle Larson, who like Stewart, are long-time sprint car drivers and fans.

“I wouldn’t miss this week for the world,” Stewart said. “I don’t think Jeff, Kasey or Kyle would, either. We’re diehards about this. We love what we do full-time, but we’re passionate about dirt racing and the Nationals.”

Surprisingly, Stewart admitted that he’s still not fully recovered from last year’s life-changing wreck.

“I thought I’d be a lot further along than I am right now,” he said. “But I’m pretty grateful to have a leg to stand on and am able to do what I still love to do. So, you’re not going to hear me complain about it.”

Rather, Stewart is focusing on not only completing his comeback, but also to make the Chase for the Sprint Cup. He has five races left, including Sunday’s, to make the expanded 16-driver field.

When and where will he get that elusive win?

“I don’t know,” Stewart said. “It can come anywhere, honestly. I don’t think it’s a scenario where you can throw all your eggs in one basket and say, ‘This is the one we’ve got to make happen.’

“It’s just like last week (at Pocono). We weren’t great, but it wasn’t our crash that we got involved in. We ended up in it. So, you never know what can happen.”

Follow me @Jerry Bonkowski

Latest Posts
  1. Dixon’s latest title a story of consistency, comeback, typical “Ice Man” cool

    Aug 31, 2015, 6:45 PM EDT

    DixonChamp2 AP

    MotorSportsTalk’s Tony DiZinno reflects on the latest championship achieved by Scott Dixon and the Target Chip Ganassi Racing team.

  2. Damien Power hits Sonoma in person, live tweets, preps for IndyCar video series

    Aug 31, 2015, 5:35 PM EDT

    © INDYCAR © INDYCAR

    Damien Power hits Sonoma to meet up with brother Will. Hilarity ensues.

  3. Gabby Chaves confirmed as 2015 IndyCar rookie-of-the-year

    Aug 31, 2015, 12:27 PM EDT

    GCroty15 Getty Images

    Chaves first driver in nearly a decade to win both Indy 500, IndyCar top rookie honors in same season.

  4. Gonzalez delivers huge result for Coyne with No. 18 car’s best finish of ninth

    Aug 31, 2015, 11:59 AM EDT

    © INDYCAR © INDYCAR

    IndyCar’s biggest underdog driver, team has their day at Sonoma.

  5. RHR, Kimball bank podiums; others throughout field star under-the-radar at Sonoma

    Aug 31, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT

    SonomaPodium AP

    The rest of the stories of note, to cap off the IndyCar season at Sonoma.

  6. As Justin Wilson is remembered, Oriol Servia hopes he did the car, family proud (VIDEO)

    Aug 30, 2015, 10:39 PM EDT

    ServiaRecap AP

    It wasn’t the result, but the strength, of Oriol Servia in Justin Wilson’s car this weekend that shown through.

  7. Power, Newgarden and Castroneves run out of luck in championship hunt (VIDEO)

    Aug 30, 2015, 10:34 PM EDT

    Will Power, Josef Newgarden Will Power, Josef Newgarden

    A look at how the championship hopes for the three drivers ended in the GoPro GP of Sonoma.

  8. Double points reverse Montoya’s IndyCar championship hopes (VIDEO)

    Aug 30, 2015, 9:17 PM EDT

    Juan Pablo Montoya Juan Pablo Montoya

    Juan Pablo Montoya blamed the double-points awarded in the season finale for missing out on the IndyCar championship.

  9. Rahal’s dream season finally hits trouble in Sonoma finale (VIDEO)

    Aug 30, 2015, 8:47 PM EDT

    RahalLoss AP

    Rahal endures disastrous finale at Sonoma, falls from second to fourth after 18th place finish.

  10. Scott Dixon captures Sonoma race win and 2015 IndyCar championship (VIDEO)

    Aug 30, 2015, 7:18 PM EDT

    DixonTitle1 AP

    Dixon wins race, title in Sonoma in dramatic fashion.

  11. Sebastian Saavedra leads at halfway in IndyCar season finale (VIDEO)

    Aug 30, 2015, 6:15 PM EDT

    © INDYCAR © INDYCAR

    Will Power and Juan Montoya must fight from the back of the field following an accident.

  12. Robin Miller pays tribute to Justin Wilson (VIDEO)

    Aug 30, 2015, 5:01 PM EDT

    AP AP

    Robin Miller remembers Justin Wilson in this touching tribute.

  13. Webber elated with “awesome” first WEC victory

    Aug 30, 2015, 4:00 PM EDT

    © FIA WEC © FIA WEC

    Webber and the no. 17 Porsche crew claimed their first win at the 6 Hours of Nürburgring on Sunday.

  14. INDYCAR confirms Chevrolet wins fourth straight Manufacturer’s Championship

    Aug 30, 2015, 3:15 PM EDT

    ChevySTPdomination AP

    Chevrolet wins its fourth straight INDYCAR Manufacturer’s Championship.

  15. WATCH LIVE: IndyCar’s championship decided in Sonoma at 1 p.m. PT, 4 ET on NBCSN

    Aug 30, 2015, 3:00 PM EDT

    SonomaTitle AP

    With heavy hearts, IndyCar moves ahead and will crown its champion this afternoon in Sonoma.

  16. WATCH: Red Bull Global Rallycross midseason review at 3:30 p.m. ET on NBC

    Aug 30, 2015, 2:45 PM EDT

    GRCDaytona Getty Images

    Catch up on the Red Bull Global Rallycross season at 3:30 p.m. ET on NBC.

  17. Maldonado: Good feeling heading into Italian GP weekend

    Aug 30, 2015, 2:30 PM EDT

    xxxx during practice for the Formula One Grand Prix of Belgium at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps on August 21, 2015 in Spa, Belgium. Getty Images

    Maldonado keen to make up for his DNF in the Belgian Grand Prix at Monza.

  18. What to watch for: IndyCar at Sonoma (4 p.m. ET, NBCSN and Live Extra)

    Aug 30, 2015, 2:00 PM EDT

    SonomaW2W4 AP

    What to watch for ahead of the 16th and final round of the Verizon IndyCar Series season, the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma from Sonoma Raceway.