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Tony Stewart and Eddie Jarvis in the Daytona Garage

Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Mobil 1/Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet, walks through the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sprint Unlimited at Daytona International Speedway on February 14, 2014. (photo credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images North America)

I had been waiting (sometimes not so) patiently for nearly 7 months: Tony Stewart’s return to the NASCAR circuit. I will admit it freely- I did not hold the same enthusiasm for NASCAR after August 4th of last season as I had before. It wasn’t the same without my driver.  That said, I was apprehensive about his return.  Two busted leg bones, infection, three surgeries, physical therapy…that is a lot to come back from.  But after listening to his media from Daytona this week- I was lulled into a sense of security.  Tony was in a good mood. He seemed to be feeling good- he said that the last two weeks- even he had been impressed with his rehabilitation.  He was obviously chomping at the bit to get back into the car. He claimed he had no fear, no worries (I honestly don’t see how this is possible after such a major injury but good for him) and that there was no back up driver waiting in the wings should it be too much (well not a real one anyway- he did tell journalist Bob Pockrass he was his back-up driver).  Tony displayed his normal charisma and swagger during media. Not only was my beloved NASCAR back for the season but my driver was back in the saddle again*!

I heard good things about practice for the shootout- Tony’s first time driving the 14 since Pocono (I think) last season.  He was comfortable (he used the it’s like an old pair of shoes analogy) and the car was competitive.  Both things I like to hear.  Tony Stewart was ready for the Unlimited and so was I.

Tony Stewart strapped in and ready to go at Daytona.

Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Bass Pro Shops / Mobil 1 Chevrolet, sits in his car during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 15, 2014. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images North America)

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