BACK IN FORCE
After breaking his right tibia and fibula in a race last August, the driver and co-owner of the number 14 Mobil 1/Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet has raced every week this season. On Sunday he had his best finish of the year, fourth, at Bristol.
DAN PATRICK:I know you love Smokey and the Bandit. Have you met Burt Reynolds?
TONY STEWART: I have not. That's on my bucket list.
DP:But you have one of the cars from the movie?
TS: I do. It's sitting at my house in Indiana. I haven't even driven it. I am scared to death to get a scratch on it.
DP:What's the most you ever paid for a car?
TS: I did a trade. The sticker price was $300,000 for a Lamborghini Murciélago.
DP:What did you trade?
TS: Two Shelby Series Ones, a Ferrari FI 355 GT and $50,000.
DP:How many cars do you have?
TS: About 15 or 16.
DP:When did you know your injury was really serious?
TS: In the helicopter [flying] me to Des Moines.
DP:What did your leg feel like?
TS: At first I didn't feel anything. Then the pain crept in, and I realized I was hurt a lot worse than I'd thought.
DP:Any risk you would lose your leg?
TS: There was. Jay Masur, the paramedic who pulled me out of the car, basically saved my leg and my life.
DP:Did any doctors tell you not to race again?
TS: No. People who aren't doctors have.
DP:What's your leg look like?
TS: You would assume a shark bit me in the side of the leg.
DP:Do you drive any differently?
TS: No, I still drive it like I stole it.
DP:How important was Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s Daytona 500 win for the sport?
TS: It was big. For an Earnhardt to win it is awesome. Dale Jr.'s our most popular driver.
DP:Who's more important to the sport, Jimmie Johnson or Junior?
TS: They both are. If you ask race fans, they're going to tell you Dale Jr. The reason they don't pick Jimmie is because Jimmie's won so much. I 100% disagree with fans who say that it's bad for the sport. We're seeing history in the making.
DP:Did you feel like you had to stick up for Danica Patrick, who drives on your team, when Richard Petty said she couldn't win unless everyone stayed home?
TS: I did it because it was right. Richard doesn't know what it's like to drive in this series right now. There's still some ill feelings out there toward her.
DP:You mean because she's a woman?
TS: I think so. And the attention she gets. She's got a great sponsor with GoDaddy in an era when it's hard to find sponsors. I think there's resentment. She's a racer, a lot more than [Richard] gives her credit for. She's learning and progressing. She'll figure it out.
Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski is thrilled with freshman Jabari Parker's development, but he told me, "I wish I could have surrounded him with more veterans. If I had Ryan Kelly this year, Jabari would be even be better. He'd have a guy who could lead him along that path. Instead, he's walked that path alone." ... Hall of Famer and longtime NBA executive Jerry West says the draft is overrated. "The fans get excited," he said. "The reality of it, because it's a huge step up in the level of play—to say that these kids are going to make a difference right away is probably not even close to the truth." ... NBC Sports NBA analyst Stan Van Gundy doesn't think Phil Jackson could help the Knicks recruit superstar free agents: "I definitely don't think a player makes a decision based on a front-office guy he's going to have limited contact with. They're not going to play for personalities."