CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Tony Stewart was exactly where he wanted to be when he marked the anniversary of the devastating injury that cost him the second half of last year's NASCAR season.
He was trackside in Iowa at the Knoxville Nationals.
The three-time Cup champion has not once wavered in his commitment to sprint car racing despite the crash in Iowa last August that led to a broken right leg. He marked the anniversary Tuesday night with a post on his Twitter account, noting his life changed one year ago: "Thank you to everyone that worked so hard to get me back to where I'm at today. It's your life, live it!"
Stewart has competed in at least two sprint car races in the last month, and was scheduled to run a go-kart race Wednesday in a field that included Jeff Gordon, Kasey Kahne and Kyle Larson as part of Kick-It, a program that benefits the Jeff Gordon Children's Foundation.
Stewart will head to Watkins Glen later this week for the Sunday's Sprint Cup race, and he wouldn't have it any other way.
"I get the best of both worlds. I get to race with the best stock car drivers in the world every week, and I get to and run dirt tracks on either the off nights or sometimes during a Cup weekend I get to go sneak off for anything," he said.
Stewart's passion is the grassroots level, where he began and learned to drive on many different surfaces. Now he enjoys going back and forth between the two.
"I like the challenge. I like the dirt tracks because they change all the time," he said. "Pavement tracks, when I got in the Cup series, the pavement racing I had done before that, tracks really didn't change a lot. In the Cup series, the groove moves around and it gets wider and you might run the bottom for a little while and the top, and that's a lot like dirt racing too.
"I like that challenge of trying to figure out as a driver what to do to make yourself better."
He understands there is criticism about his extracurricular racing, particularly after it sidelined him from his full-time job last season. But it's what Stewart loves to do and he won't give it up anytime soon.
"Everybody has hobbies. Everybody has stuff they like to do when they have downtime, and that's just what it is for me," he said. "That's what I like to do when I have extra time. I don't think there is anything wrong with doing it. I feel like there are a lot of other things I could be doing that are a lot more dangerous and a lot bigger waste of time with my time off do than doing that."