Tony Stewart says he could be back on the track by February

NORTH CAROLINA - Tony Stewart offered a candid look at his team and his health at a press conference in North Carolina Tuesday.

The event was the first time Stewart has spoken publicly since his Aug. 5 crash at a sprint car race which shattered his right leg.

Stewart announced Aug. 19 that the injury would keep him from racing for the rest of the 2013 season. His car is being driven by Austin Dillon and Mark Martin in the interim.

"I've never been more proud of the team," he said. "Everyone said, 'These are the cards we're dealt; how do we adjust? What do we do?'"

Stewart said his doctors expect him to be in racing condition by the end of February, and to eventually make a 100 percent recovery.

Stewart said he has no regrets about his decision to enter the race, which was outside his regular NASCAR Sprint Cup series.

"You never want something like this to happen … but it's just life, guys. Things happen every day," Stewart said. "You can't spend your whole life trying to guard against something happening. If you do that, in my opinion you've wasted your time."

"The crash was a freak accident," he added. "It was a perfect storm."

And, Stewart said, he hasn't missed out on his work as team owner because of his injury.

"Nobody's missed a day of work over this," he said. "Nobody's got a cut in paycheck. The only part of my job I've missed has been being in the racecar. And I'm not downplaying that … but I'm not missing work."

Doctors have told Stewart they don't expect any further surgeries on his leg after his last trip to the OR, during which surgeons placed a titanium rod in his leg.

Stewart said his prognosis of a 100 percent recovery is amazing considering what his leg looked like right after the crash.

"When I looked down, it wasn't like the toe was pointed weird," he said. "It was like we needed a jig to fix it."

Stewart fielded questions from reporters for more than an hour. Throughout the conference, though, he stressed his determination to be back in a car as soon as he's cleared to do so.

"It's not just for me," he said. "It's for the 200 people here at Stewart-Haas Racing. It's for the fans."

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