Tony Stewart, still recovering from offseason surgery to repair his broken back, will undergo tests later this month to determine when he can return to racing.
The three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion will miss his seventh race of the season on Saturday night for the Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.
Stewart, speaking Thursday night in Fort Worth after being honored for raising $1.5 million through his "Smoke Show" fantasy camp for the Texas chapter of Speedway Children's Charities, admits he is patiently waiting for his back to heal.
"I feel great, I've been doing everything now the last week that I've wanted to," Stewart told the Star-Telegram after he was recognized for his charitable work at the Texas Motor Speedway Hall of Fame gala. "I'm anxious to get the scans. It's driving me crazy wanting to see what it looks like and then listen to the diagnosis and when they think they're going to let me go. So I'm really anxious to get there."
Stewart suffered a burst fracture of his L1 vertebra in an all-terrain vehicle accident in southern California's Glamis Dunes on Jan. 31.
Stewart must wait for the bone to heal before getting back in his No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet, or risk suffering a more severe injury.
The 44-year-old Stewart had announced plans to retire following the season and take on a full-time ownership role with Stewart-Haas Racing.
"I've definitely missed it," Stewart said Thursday night. "Probably more than anything, I've just missed driving the race car. It's not been about the racing side of it as much as it's just been driving the race car. That's what I've missed the most up to this point.
"It's kind of been a window of what next year is going to be like in all reality. Some days it's hard, some days it's really easy because it gives me an idea of how much fun I'm going to have next year too. ... The good news is every Sunday when the race is over I'm not mad at anybody, and nobody is mad at me. I'm happy when I go home. That's not happened in a long, long time."
Brian Vickers and Ty Dillon have substituted for Stewart in his absence. Vickers will make his third consecutive race as fill-in on Saturday and Dillon is expected to be driving again next week at Bristol Motor Speedway.