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Friday, June 21
The Indiana Daily Student

sports

Stewart's feats show true heart

Joe Harding was sitting back with a few of his friends, watching the Indianapolis 500 on TV last Sunday like many others across the nation when all of the sudden, Tony Stewart comes walking in the door during the 10 minute delay for rain on lap 155. \nEven though Harding -- an Indianapolis native -- is a worker at the medical center inside the garage area, right on gasoline alley, he was caught off guard by the surprise appearance. He and his co-workers were not aware of Stewart's need for medical assistance, especially since he was not one of the five cars involved in accidents in the 85th running of the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing."\n"We're just watching the race on TV, and (the commentators) say Stewart is heading back to the garage, and he walks right through the door," Harding said. "He had a lot of people with him as well. It looked like his whole entourage."\nStewart laid down in the medical center, while his trainer worked out a cramp in his foot. Now, that may not sound like such a big deal, but I would like to see you take 400 turns in 500 miles, shifting gears with your right leg tighter then a Joan Rivers face-lift. Just imagine getting a dead leg before running a marathon.\nWhile in the medical center, Harding said Stewart remained focused on the race and what time it was, due to the fact he had to be in North Carolina in a little under three hours to run another 600 miles in a car that weighs twice as much and is half as wide. \nWith two minutes until the cars were to be fired up again, Stewart came charging out the door, past myself and the rest of the media horde and hopped on the back of a golf cart supplied by his car owner Chip Ganassi. But the driver was confused on Stewart's destination and when the cart started to head towards the Ganassi garages, Stewart yelled, "No! This way," and then proceed to jump from the moving cart and make a dash for his car on pit road. \nNow, I know I am still young in my writing career, but my journalistic intuition said, as I watched Stewart sprint past me, that there is a boy who likes his racin'. After finishing the 500 sixth, I noticed the same thing from Stewart as he zoomed by me in the same golf cart -- this time going in the right direction -- on his way to the helicopter to take him to the Joe Gibbs Racing lear jet. \nStewart's performance was nothing short of heroic that Sunday afternoon, and the fact that he repeated that feat at Lowe's Motor Speedway for an even longer race then the one he had just completed an hour ago, is nothing short of amazing.\nOnce Stewart had finished his racing day with a third place finish with the fastest car on the track, he rightfully blasted his critics who questioned his motivation and said he was putting others in danger, calling them "idiots" and saying they "didn't know what they were talking about."\nThe fact is, Stewart again proved to the world why he is one of the best drivers in the world -- and with the death of Dale Earnhardt -- why he is the best driver in NASCAR's top series. For those who wish to argue, find someone who has finished in the top 10 in both races Memorial Day weekend. \nThe last time Stewart attempted the double-dip, he had to be carried from his Home Depot Pontiac, collapsed on a stretcher and was treated for dehydration and exhaustion. Now as fun as that sounds, I'll stick to a night at Nick's rather than running 1,100 miles in one day, but Stewart enjoyed it so much the first time, he just had to do it again.\nStewart is a real racer. In a time where NASCAR is looking for someone to come close to filling Earnhardt's shoes and where CART and IRL are still at odds, he gives the race fans something to smile upon -- simply because he wants to perform -- even if it means driving the length of the United States in less than a day.\n"I wish it would have been 1,200 miles," Stewart told the Associated Press. "If we would have had more time we could have won (the Coca-Cola 600)"

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