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Stewart ready for Friday return

The SportsXchange

NASCAR driver Tony Stewart, who has been sidelined since breaking his right leg in a race last August, is scheduled to return to NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition Friday when practice for this weekend's Sprint Unlimited begins at Daytona International Speedway.

"Normally I'm thinking in days and weeks and now I'm thinking in hours," Stewart said during Thursday's Media Day at Daytona Beach, Fla. "I'm excited about it. It's been a long time since August 5. Normally we're talking about the offseason and it just seems like it just flies by. It's been the slowest offseason I've ever had."

Stewart, a three-time Sprint Cup Series champion, had three surgeries on his leg and had an aluminum rod inserted for stability.

He said his leg is only 65 percent healed, but said his team has ensured that his ride in his No. 14 Chevrolet will be comfortable.

"The great thing is everybody at our shop, especially the guy that does the interior in our car (Shane Church), he and (crew chief) Chad (Johnston) have worked closely together," Stewart said. "We've tried to think of absolutely anything that could be a problem."

Pedal angles have been adjusted, and padding to protect the driver's knees have been installed in Stewart's car.

Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch are new to the Stewart-Haas Racing organization for 2014. Danica Patrick returns for her second season.

Although Mark Martin tested for the team during Preseason Thunder in January, Stewart said there is no plan to have Martin or anyone else available as a relief driver.

"We're not going to need a back-up driver," Stewart said. "I feel good enough that I'm confident that we're not going to have to worry about anything. We've planned for everything that we think might or could go wrong. When I say 'go wrong,' it's not anything that's going to take us out of the race car, it's just a matter of making everything as comfortable as possible."
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