After previously admitting that he was interested in making a return to the Indianapolis 500, Tony Stewart has stated that he is reconsidering his comeback following Robert Wickens‘ recent wreck and subsequent injuries. The former NASCAR Cup Series and IndyCar Series champion stated that he was asking himself if a return was “really worth it.”
Stewart said in an interview earlier this year that he would be open to the idea of making a return to the Indianapolis 500 so long as he would be able to compete for the victory. Stewart last took part in the famous race back in 2001. In his five attempts at the 500 during his IndyCar career, Stewart managed to take a pole position but was unable to secure a race victory.
Tony seems to be a fan of the idea of adding an Indy 500 victory to his already illustrious motorsport resume. However, the forty-seven-year-old admitted in an interview with The Associated Press on Thursday that he was reconsidering his return due to the potential risks; highlighted recently by Robert Wickens’ crash at Pocono Raceway in August.
“After Robert Wickens got hurt, I don’t know how excited I am about it anymore,” Stewart said, “You watch Robert get hurt and ask yourself if it’s really worth it.”
At speeds similar to that seen at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Wickens was thrown into the perimeter catch-fencing at Pocono after making contact with Ryan Hunter-Reay toward the start of the race.
Wickens suffered numerous injuries as a result of the wreck. He was airlifted to hospital where it was revealed that he had broken both of his legs, both of his hands, his neck and more. It was also announced soon after that he had sustained a spinal injury, but it was not until yesterday when Wickens confirmed that he had been paralysed as a result of the crash.
Robert stated in a post on Instagram yesterday that he was “far away” from being able to walk unassisted and that he was giving it everything he had to try and get back to full health.
With Wickens’ crash and injuries playing on his mind already, Stewart went on to admit that the potential of being involved in an accident in his potential Indy 500 return was not his only concern. He stated that he would have to put a lot of effort in to be competitive against the drivers competing full-time and, as such, he would have to take away time that he spends competing and preparing for his sprint car races.
Stewart commented that he wants to keep racing in sprint cars for as long as he can and would, therefore, have to evaluate whether it was worth taking away valuable time in sprint cars to go and compete at Indianapolis.
“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 said on Thursday. “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.
Stewart has said that he is a long way off of making his decision on whether or not he will make his return to Indianapolis. He has claimed that he has had “a lot of offers” from IndyCar Series teams, but that he will likely not make a concrete decision until the middle of next season; perhaps gearing up for a return for the 2020 Indianapolis 500 instead of next year’s 103rd running of the famous race.
The 2019 IndyCar Series will kick-off with the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on March 10. The 2019 Indianapolis 500 will take place later in the season on May 26.