Post Fri Aug 23, 2013 7:36 pm

Torque tube caused Tony Stewart sprint car injury

A torque tube struck Tony Stewart’s right leg, breaking both the tibia and fibula, Greg Zipadelli and Mark Martin said Friday at Bristol Motor Speedway.

It’s the first time details of Stewart’s accident have been publicly discussed. Martin, who is driving Stewart’s car for all but one of the remaining NASCAR Sprint Cup races this season, visited Stewart earlier this week.

Zipadelli, competition director for Stewart-Haas Racing, said the torque tube - a pipe between the engine and rear end that the driveshaft spins inside - struck Stewart’s leg in the Aug. 5 crash.

“There is protection, but obviously that hoop that is there is not enough to contain it,’’ Zipadelli said.

That is the area Stewart’s sprint car team is working to make safer.

Earlier this week, Stewart told Kendra Jacobs, co-host of Motor Racing Network’s “Winged Nation’’ that he planned to race sprint cars next year and that his team was building cars for him.

Zipadelli said it was “too early to get into that stuff’’ but expects Stewart to race sprint cars again.

“I don’t think you can take Tony Stewart and tell him he can’t drive other cars,’’ Zipadelli said. “That is what makes him who he is. Can we get him to cut his schedule back? Can we get him to look at things? Can we help him with this movement of making those cars safer for everybody including himself? I think those will be the things that come in the next couple of months.

“Hopefully, he will come back here with a little bit different attitude and understanding (of) how ... we all rely on him. We are under his umbrella, and I know he will do his best.’’

A key in the coming months will be Stewart’s rehabilitation.

“I think that is part of what he will learn a little bit about how important it is to him,’’ Zipadelli said. “I really think when he comes back ... he is going to be fired up and ready to show the world that all that time he has had cooped up there will, hopefully, pay larger dividends for next year. Obviously, we’ve got a lot of changes at Stewart-Haas. There is just a lot of excitement, a lot of positive things to tun this around and to head into next year with.’’

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