Tony Stewart on his return: ‘I haven’t lost s***’

Apr 23, 2016; Richmond, VA, USA; Sprint Cup Series driver Tony Stewart (14) looks on in the garage prior to practice for the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway. Mandatory Credit: Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports

Apr 23, 2016; Richmond, VA, USA; Sprint Cup Series driver Tony Stewart (14) looks on in the garage prior to practice for the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway. Mandatory Credit: Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports

Tony Stewart’s return to the track was an eventful one, but he hasn’t lost his fighting spirit. In fact, he hasn’t lost much of anything.

Following his 19th-place finish after a tire blew out, Stewart wasn’t discouraged about his finish.

“I love the job. I missed driving,” Stewart said. “I could go 400 more laps right now. A lot of these guys couldn’t. But I could go 800 more. Anybody who thinks I’ve lost anything can kiss my ass. I haven’t lost s***.”

Stewart was especially colorful in the car, as well, even calling Chase Elliott’s move on a restart “Sexy.” He would pull off some of his own moves later in the race on a restart, telling crew chief Mike Bugarewicz, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do, I guess.”

Race winner Carl Edwards battled with Stewart for several laps while fighting to stay on the lead lap. Though he would fall off the lead lap multiple times, Stewart was commended by Edwards for finishing in the top 20 in his first race back.

“Let me tell you, the guy’s competitive,” Edwards said. “I was thinking, what a heck of a race for his first time back in the seat.”

Earlier in the week, NASCAR sent mixed messages when it gave Stewart a Chase waiver and a $35,000 fine for his comments on a lug nut rule.

Stewart still has a tough row to hoe if he plans to make the Chase this season, however. Currently 40th in points, finishing top 20 every weekend won’t earn Smoke a Chase bid in his final season. He’ll need a win and to finish 30th in points to make that happen.

Regardless of the result, Stewart made one thing very clear: He’s still got it. And with 17 races still on the schedule before the Chase, Smoke still has a chance to write his own final chapter in NASCAR.

 

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