Tony Stewart rethinking return to Indianapolis 500

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Tony Stewart said Robert Wickens’ crash in the August IndyCar race at Pocono Raceway left Stewart less excited about running the Indianapolis 500 again.

“After Robert Wickens got hurt, I don’t know how excited I am about it anymore,” Stewart told The Associated Press in a telephone interview Thursday. “You watch Robert get hurt and ask yourself if it’s really worth it.”

Wickens suffered multiple injuries in the crash: Thoracic spinal fracture, spinal cord injury, neck fracture, tibia and fibula fractures to both legs, fractures in both hands, fractured right forearm, fractured elbow, four fractured ribs and a pulmonary contusion.

He has had multiple surgeries, including one about 30 hours after the crash to treat the thoracic fracture of his spinal column.

Over the summer, Stewart announced he was mulling over making a return to IndyCar for an ultimate run in the Indy 500. Wickens’ injury may be causing him to re-prioritize.

As soon as Stewart announced his interest in running the Indy 500, car owners began offering him a ride.

Stewart has five starts in the Indy 500. He started on the pole in 1996 as a rookie. He led 64 laps on his way to a career-best fifth in 1997.

Roger Penske said that fielding a car for Stewart would be “one of the biggest dreams” of his life.

Bobby Rahal emailed Stewart an offer during the summer.

Both cars could contend for his first Indy 500 win, but Stewart would want to get up to speed on other tracks. Pocono was one of the courses he mentioned.

In his second year of retirement from racing NASCAR, Stewart has run more than 60 sprint car races. He’s won multiple times, most recently last Saturday in a United Sprint Car Series race at Southern Raceway in Milton, Florida. On Friday, he finished fifth with that same series in Hattiesburg (Mississippi) Speedway.

“We had a big improvement in our performance in the sprint car this year and we did it because we raced every shot we had,” Stewart told AP. “I’m not going to have an IndyCar career, so if I do it, I am going to have to put a lot of effort into it.

“If I do that, I’m going to be taking away from the racing I want to be doing for quite a while. So I need to reevaluate if Indy is something I really want to do.”

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