April 24, 2016
By Reid Spencer
NASCAR Wire Service
What was not to like?
Tony Stewart was back in a race car for the first time this season, and he was driving at one of his favorite race tracks.
He was working in competition with new crew chief Mike Bugarewicz for the first time, and he was up on the wheel.
Though Stewart was returning from a burst fracture of his first lumbar vertebra – an offseason injury that required surgery, rest and considerable rehabilitation, the adrenaline rush of being back in the No. 14 Chevrolet was enough to overcome any feelings of pain or fatigue.
“Line ‘em up again and let’s run another – hell, make it 800 laps,” said Stewart, who started 18th and finished 19th in the 400-lap Toyota Owners 400. “Line ‘em up, and I’ll run 800 laps right now and not have a problem.
“There will be a bunch of these guys falling out of the seat if they had to run 800 more laps, but I will not be one of them.”
Sunday was the sort of day Stewart lives for.
“Racing at your favorite race track and running a day race here where it gets slippery and you have to use all of the track… that’s what made it fun and that’s what I miss. That’s the stuff I dearly miss with this series is having days like today where you get on track and you are sliding around and the drivers get to make the difference.”