What did Tony Stewart learn about himself while he’s been laid up with a broken leg?“I don’t know that I learned much.… I pretty much knew already that I could sleep 20 hours out of a 24-hour day going into this,” he said.And with that, the reporters who flocked to Stewart-Haas Racing headquarters on Tuesday for Stewart’s first media appearance since he broke his leg in a sprint car race in Iowa three weeks ago, knew it was the same old Tony Stewart.He hadn’t changed.“I actually miss you guys,” he said. “Which tells you that I’m not healthy yet.”Still cracking jokes.But he is now more serious about the consequences of running as many races as he can. He’s going to slow it down, he promised, although not necessarily because of the accident, which has ended his season and eliminated any chance of him competing for a fourth Sprint Cup championship.The extra racing, he said, was all just getting to be a bit too much, no matter how much pride he took in it.“I’m definitely going to cut back the amount of races, just on scheduling purposes more than anything,” he said. “I was starting to tell I was getting a little bit tired around Brickyard time, and we had the truck race [at Eldora] that week, which was a lot of stress, and we had a lot of races scheduled in the two weeks prior to that.”Stewart understands what his absence means, although he notes that no one in the company missed a paycheck because of his accident.He reinforced his belief that extra racing is a hobby for him, that he wants to do it because he enjoys it, and that if something happens, it happens.“It’s just life, guys. Things happen every day,” he said. “… You’ve got to live life. You can’t spend your whole life trying to guard against something happening. If you do that, in my opinion, you’ve wasted your time. We are all here a short amount of time in the big picture, and I’m somebody that wants to live life. I’m not somebody that wants to sit there and say, I’ve got to guard against this and I’ve got to worry about that.”Besides, Stewart says he is being as responsible as the next guy.“If I got in a race car and didn’t wear a helmet and didn’t wear seat belts, then that would be dangerous, and that’s being foolish,” Stewart said. “We don’t do that. But I’m going to go live my life. I’m going to take full advantage of whatever time I’ve got on this earth. I’m going to ride it out to the fullest and I’m going to get my money’s worth; you can bet your butt on that.”Chase scenariosFour drivers control their own destiny this weekend. That is, they can clinch a spot in the Chase regardless of what any other driver does.They are:Dale Earnhardt Jr., who can clinch a spot in the Chase by finishing 32nd or better, or 33rd with a lap led or 34th with the most laps led.Joey Logano, who can clinch with an 11th place, or a 12th and a lap led or a 13th and the most laps led.Greg Biffle, who needs a ninth place, or a 10th and a lap led or an 11th and the most laps led.And Kurt Busch, who needs to win, or finish second with a lap led or third with the most laps led.Jeff Gordon, Kasey Kahne, Martin Truex Jr., Ryan Newman, Brad Keselowski and Jamie McMurray can all still finish in the top 10. Kahne has clinched at least a wild card. Gordon, Truex and Newman can clinch at least wild cards with a victory.Keselowski, McMurray and Paul Menard need to win and have help. Lots of help.
Carlos Mendez, 817-390-7407 Twitter: @calexmendez