Triple Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart says he is on track for a comeback to NASCAR despite missing the pre-season Thunder test sessions at Daytona.
Stewart suffered horrific leg injuries in a sprintcar crash last year which forced him to miss the final 15 races of the Sprint Cup.
Surgeons have performed three operations to mend his badly damaged right leg but he remains upbeat of being cleared for the Sprint Unlimited at Daytona on February 15.
“We’re still on schedule to be (medically) clear the day before (The Sprint Unlimited), so we’ll be down here for two days hanging out and watching our teams run,” Stewart said in a press conference at Daytona.
“Luckily this is a smooth race track; it’s not rough and bumpy. If it were Dover, I would be a lot more concerned.”
“I feel pretty good. I still have a little ways to go, but we’ve got four weeks to get ready.
“Even when we get here in February, it’s not going to be 100 percent. Physically, I’m not going to feel 100 percent, but I’ll be able to do my job 100 percent — and that’s the main thing.”
Stewart had a seat fitting for his #14 Bass Pro Shops Chevy just before Christmas.
“It felt like an old pair of shoes,” Stewart said.
“The hard part was they kept telling me I had to get out of it. I wanted to sit in it. I felt like a kid.”
The veteran driver Mark Martin, who did the bulk of driving in the #14 while standing in for Stewart late last season, is handling Stewart’s Chevy in the pre-season tests.
The Stewart-Haas Racing operation will run Kevin Harvick as a fourth driver in 2014 alongside Stewart, Danica Patrick and another new recruit, Kurt Busch.