Sprint Cup drivers such as Tony Stewart can push their luck with dangerous hobbies

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Three days after Tony Stewart sarcastically and defiantly told reporters they were making too much of the dangers of driving a sprint car when he’s not busy with his NASCAR responsibilities, he crashed and broke his right leg Monday.

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Personnel prepare to load Tony Stewart into an ambulance after the Sprint Cup driver was involved in a wreck Monday at Southern Iowa Speedway. He suffered a broken tibia and fibula in his right leg.  MARY WILLIE/THE DES MOINES REGISTER
MARY WILLIE/THE DES MOINES REGISTER
Personnel prepare to load Tony Stewart into an ambulance after the Sprint Cup driver was involved in a wreck Monday at Southern Iowa Speedway. He suffered a broken tibia and fibula in his right leg.

It was the second time in less than a week Stewart was involved in a crash away from his primary job as a car owner and driver in the Sprint Cup Series and it means he can’t drive this Sunday’s race at Watkins Glen, N.Y. His dangerous hobby not only resulted in emergency surgery late Monday, it probably cost him a chance of competing in the Chase for the Championship.

Stewart-Haas Racing competition director Greg Zipadelli said that Stewart will miss multiple races. He’s 11th in the points standings for the Chase for the Championship with five races before the Chase starts.

Road racer Max Papis will drive the No. 14 Chevrolet for Stewart in this Sunday’s race at Watkins Glen.

Stock car drivers are, by nature, daredevils. Some extend their risky thrills beyond the racetrack. And they have broken bones to prove it.

Jimmie Johnson broke his wrist while trying to surf on the roof of a golf cart; Dale Earnhardt Jr. suffered burns while driving in a sports car race; Travis Pastrana has broken too many bones to count while competing in X-Games and stunt driving; and Stewart broke his wrist in another sprint car race seven years ago.”

And yet, Stewart angrily defended the risks last week, a couple days after flipping his car five times July 29 in Canada.

“You mortals have got to learn, you guys need to watch more sprint car videos and stuff,” he said. “It was not a big deal. It’s starting to get annoying this week about that so that was just an average sprint car wreck. When they wreck they get upside down like that. That was not a big deal.”

Stewart was winning the 30-lap main event at Southern Iowa Speedway in Oskaloosa with five laps to go when he was swept into an accident that started with a lapped car lost control. Stewart struck the car, hit an inside barrier and flipped, other drivers said.

Stewart broke the tibia and fibula in his right leg.

He will have to be cleared by NASCAR before being allowed to return to the driver’s seat.

Johnson broke his left wrist during a 2006 celebrity golf tournament in Florida. Since it happened during the off-season, he didn’t miss any races.

Earnhardt Jr. was driving a Corvette during an ALMS sports car race in 2004 at Sonoma, Calif. He suffered burns to his neck and leg in the accident

“I did not realize how hot fire was,” he said after the crash.

Earnhardt hasn’t driven in a sports car race since.

Others continue to push their luck with dangerous hobbies.

Brian Vickers likes to skydive and ride mountain bicycles. He also swam with the sharks at the Georgia Aquarium.

Joey Logano has competed in several bobsledding races; Carl Edwards flies a stunt plane; Greg Biffle and Kyle Busch drive dune buggies in the Southwest desert; Kurt Busch has moonlighted in the NHRA drag racing series and plans to drive in the IndyCar Series season finale this year.

Stewart also was involved in 10-car sprint car crash on July 16. He took responsibility for starting that crash at Canandaigua (N.Y.) Motorsports Park in which Alysha Ruggles, 19, suffered a broken vertebra in her back.

Despite his own cynicism, Stewart’s accident Monday night highlighted the dangers of living on the edge.

“I guarantee you there were 15-20 guys across the country that flipped just like that this weekend and were just fine just like we were,” he said last week. “If it’s bad we will let you guys know. That was not bad at all.”

Actually not all of them were fine. A sprint car driven by Kramer Williamson crashed Saturday night at Lincoln Speedway in central Pennsylvania and the 63-year-old driver died from his injuries.


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