NASCAR Media Week: Stewart on track for Daytona return

Published On: Jan 27 2014 08:34:33 PM CST   Updated On: Jan 27 2014 08:00:00 PM CST

You don’t have to be a doctor to know, NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Tony Stewart is close to 100%.

“Read the internet once and a while you will see that was released a couple of days ago,” Stewart joked with members of the media on the Sprint Media Tour in Charlotte. “Obviously you can tell by my attitude that I am feeling much better. “

Stewart says he is on track to return to his number 14 Chevy in time for the season opening Daytona 500, though his leg won’t be completely healed. Stewart’s broken leg will only be about 65% as his recovery continues from an August 5th Sprint Car accident, but Smoke says doctors have cleared him to be in the car when the green flag drops on the first practice at Daytona.

“Everything is going well, we are on schedule, therapy is going great.  We actually very confident we are over the hump of the hard part. There is still a lot of work to do, but I’m feeling good. I’m excited to go.”

No more start and park for McDowell

Michael McDowell will not be racing a full season for his new bosses at Leavine Family Racing and he is perfectly fine with that.

“I’m just glad I don’t have to start and park anymore,” McDowell told the media on Monday. “ You can kind of laugh at that a little bit but one of the things about this program that Bob (Leavine) and I talked about at the beginning is, it’s hard to balance doing quality races and then on the other weeks start and parking.”

So the number 95 team will only run about 20 races this season. But they will run them, no starting and parking.

“We came up with a strategy and said hey let’s do quality races. Let’s figure how many we can do and we felt like 20 was a good number.

All A.J.’s now

The number 49 of JTG Daugherty Racing also has a new face behind the wheel, kind of. A.J. Allmendinger ran a handful of races for the team last season. But this year the ride is all his.

“Tad (Geschickter) came to me with the idea last year to do a couple of races and it just kind of developed from there,” said Allmendinger. “It’s a great place to be. These people have made me feel like more than just a driver or an employee. I feel like I’m family.”

The 49 will have another new look , besides the driver. JTG Daugherty has entered into a technical alliance with Richard Childress racing and will field a Chevy in 2014.

“We knew we had to have the alliance if we truly want to be competitive,” said co-owner Brad Daugherty.  “We were looking for the best fit for us and we felt like Richard Childress gave up the best opportunity to maximize everything that they were going to allow us to utilize.”