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. MRTI, PWC at Mid-Ohio: Several different winners emerge

    Aug 1, 2015, 7:00 PM EDT

    Photo: @ Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography Photo: @ Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

    Mazda Road to Indy and Pirelli World Challenge race updates from Mid-Ohio as they happen on one of the busiest road racing days of the year.

  2. Wehrlein takes lead of DTM championship in Austria

    Aug 1, 2015, 5:00 PM EDT

    HOCKENHEIM, GERMANY - MAY 03:  Pascal Wehrlein of Germany and Mercedes HWA looks on prior to the second race of the DTM 2015 German Touring Car Championship at Hockenheimring on May 3, 2015 in Hockenheim, Germany.  (Photo by Alex Grimm/Bongarts/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Mercedes F1 reserve driver finishes second at the Red Bull Ring to move into the lead of the DTM championship.

  3. Cole Custer sails to first career ARCA win at Pocono, 9th first-time winner in series in 2015

    Aug 1, 2015, 4:46 PM EDT

    cole custer Getty Images

    In his third career start in the ARCA Racing Series, Cole Custer breezed to victory in Saturday’s ModSpace 125 at Pocono Raceway.

  4. Dixon crushes lap record to score pole in Mid-Ohio (VIDEO)

    Aug 1, 2015, 4:21 PM EDT

    © INDYCAR © INDYCAR

    Dixon blisters previous mark for the track record at Mid-Ohio.

  5. Verstappen to take driving lessons over summer break

    Aug 1, 2015, 3:30 PM EDT

    BUDAPEST, HUNGARY - JULY 25:  Max Verstappen of Netherlands and Scuderia Toro Rosso speaks with members of the media after qualifying for the Formula One Grand Prix of Hungary at Hungaroring on July 25, 2015 in Budapest, Hungary.  (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images) Getty Images

    At 17, Verstappen is still too young to get a road driver’s licence in Belgium.

  6. Johansson: Haas has done its homework ahead of F1 entry

    Aug 1, 2015, 2:30 PM EDT

    CONCORD, NC - APRIL 14:  The media looks on as (L-R) Guenther Steiner, team principal of Haas Formula, Gene Haas, founder, Haas Automation and chairman, Haas Formula, and Mike Arning, True Speed Communications, speak during the Gene Haas Formula One Press Conference at the Concord Convention Center on April 14, 2014 in Concord, North Carolina.  (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Stefan Johansson, a veteran of over 100 F1 starts, argues the case of customer cars in F1.

  7. WATCH LIVE: Honda Indy 200 qualifying at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN, Live Extra

    Aug 1, 2015, 2:15 PM EDT

    Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio - Day 3 Getty Images

    Watch qualifying for Round 14 of the IndyCar season LIVE from Mid-Ohio.

  8. LED scoring panels debut in practice at Mid-Ohio (VIDEO)

    Aug 1, 2015, 1:02 PM EDT

    © INDYCAR © INDYCAR

    For fans and strategists alike, the new LED panels have been well received at Mid-Ohio.

  9. New Mazda Road to Indy shootout goes global across double-digit series

    Aug 1, 2015, 12:36 PM EDT

    MazdaRoadToIndy

    New global shootout for Mazda scholarship on Mazda Road to Indy is announced.

  10. Vandoorne chasing more wins in push for GP2 title

    Aug 1, 2015, 12:00 PM EDT

    © GP2 Series © GP2 Series

    He may have an 85 point lead at the top of the GP2 standings, but Vandoorne is not planning to play it safe for the remainder of the season.

  11. Dixon quickest with unofficial lap record in final practice at Mid-Ohio

    Aug 1, 2015, 11:34 AM EDT

    © INDYCAR © INDYCAR

    Dixon does it again in practice with an unofficial lap record at Mid-Ohio, finishing ahead of Newgarden and Kimball.

  12. Rossi focused on GP2 performances in bid for 2016 F1 seat

    Aug 1, 2015, 9:30 AM EDT

    © GP2 Series © GP2 Series

    Rossi is pushing to become the first American driver to make an F1 start since 2007.

  13. Jamin (USF2000), Cooper (PWC GTS) win first two races of weekend at Mid-Ohio

    Jul 31, 2015, 6:39 PM EDT

    Photo: Tony DiZinno Photo: Tony DiZinno

    Jamin, Cooper emerge victorious to kick off the weekend at Mid-Ohio.

  14. Nasr: Sauber must remain patient for updates

    Jul 31, 2015, 5:00 PM EDT

    xxxx during the Formula One Grand Prix of Hungary at Hungaroring on July 26, 2015 in Budapest, Hungary. Getty Images

    Nasr calls on the team to make it through a rough patch ahead of the next raft of updates in Belgium.

  15. Dixon fastest on Friday at Mid-Ohio

    Jul 31, 2015, 4:35 PM EDT

    © INDYCAR © INDYCAR

    The Mid-Ohio dominator tops Friday practice in 2015.

  16. Verstappen joins sim racing team to complement F1 duties

    Jul 31, 2015, 3:00 PM EDT

    BUDAPEST, HUNGARY - JULY 26:  Max Verstappen of Scuderia Toro Rosso and The Netherlands during the Formula One Grand Prix of Hungary at Hungaroring on July 26, 2015 in Budapest, Hungary.  (Photo by Peter Fox/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Verstappen joins Team Redline’s sim racing roster in a bid to keep sharp when not on the track.

  17. Friday Mid-Ohio news and notes: Walker fallout, Honda update, an extra Sonoma car?

    Jul 31, 2015, 2:57 PM EDT

    © INDYCAR © INDYCAR

    Some news and notes from the paddock at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

  18. Formula E team names revealed for season two; Trulli yet to confirm line-up

    Jul 31, 2015, 2:00 PM EDT

    Nextev TCRs German driver Nelson Piquet JR (C) drives during the final race of the 2015 FIA Formula E London ePrix championship at Battersea Park in London, England, on June 28, 2015. AFP PHOTO / IAN KINGTON        (Photo credit should read IAN KINGTON/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    We round up all of the latest news and developments in Formula E ahead of pre-season testing next month.