CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Tony Stewart does not consider the Daytona 500 a disaster, despite the engine problems that spoiled his return to racing from a broken right leg. The three-time NASCAR champion wound up 35th in the season-opening race, but he logged enough laps during Speedweeks that he feels good going into the upcoming stretch of seven consecutive races. Stewart missed the final 15 races last year after breaking his leg in two places during a sprint car crash in Iowa. His first time back in a race car was Feb. 14, the day before he competed -- and was crashed out of -- the exhibition Sprint Unlimited. He also raced in the Budweiser Duel before the 500, giving him 672 miles of racing in three events. Stewart goes to Sundays race at Phoenix International Raceway "a lot more confident than I was before we got to Daytona." "I think having all the races that we ran, and actually getting in a crash, while not a great thing, allowed me to sort of test my leg and it felt good," Stewart said in a Stewart-Haas Racing team release. "There have been some little things that have felt a little different, but for the most part, its felt like an old pair of tennis shoes that youre just comfortable with. I think the whole time in Daytona exceeded my expectations of what I hoped it would be like." But the 500 itself was a letdown for SHR. Stewart had the engine issue and Danica Patrick was involved in a crash and finished 40th. It left only Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch, the two newcomers to the organization, in contention for a solid finish and both had difficulties at the end. Busch wound up 21st and Harvick was involved in the final accident of the race and finished a team-best 13th. Stewart said Sundays race at Phoenix will be a better indicator of where the team is than Daytona, one of only four restrictor-plate races on the schedule. "Daytona and Talladega have always just been two different forms of racing," Stewart said, referring to the necessary teamwork and drafting. "What happens at Phoenix and the races after that has to be done on your own. You cant help each other at Phoenix. You just have to go race." He likes his chances at Phoenix, where he has one win, eight top-fives and 12 top-10s in 23 career starts. Hes completed all but 14 of 7,257 laps on the 1-mile oval. But PIR is also the place that pushed Stewart into becoming a full-time race car driver in 1993. Still working eight-hour days at $5-an-hour at a machine shop in Columbus, Ind., Stewart headed West to run USAC Silver Crown season-opening Copper World Classic. He qualified second to Davey Hamilton, then led 31 of 50 laps before finishing second to Mike Bliss. Stewart earned $3,500 that day -- a payout that convinced him running the Silver Crown, Sprint and Midget races across the nation that year sounded a lot better than returning to the machine shop. He never looked back, learning how to adapt in every kind of car he drove out of "fear that Im going to have to get a real job if Im not successful. "To think that it all kind of started at Phoenix, I guess you could say its the place where my career came full-circle," he said. Kelvin Beachum Jersey . However, the intensity and physicality that has characterized the postseason so far has caught Gretzky by surprise. "Its a little bit risqué right now," Gretzky told Philadelphia radio station 97. Christian Hackenberg Jersey . This week, topics cover the World Series champion Red Sox, John Farrell and what to look forward to this off-season. http://www.thejetsjerseysshoponline.com/...ll-Jets-Jersey/. Gonzalez participated in his final game on Sunday, Atlantas 21-20 defeat at the hands of the NFC South champion Carolina Panthers, having posted four catches for 46 yards. Chandler Catanzaro Jersey . Ramirez is still hitting behind Puig, only now they are in the third and fourth spots, and the change is starting to generate positive results for manager Don Mattingly. Brent Qvale Jersey .com) - Bradley Beals 22 points and seven rebounds helped the Washington Wizards erase a halftime deficit and top the Utah Jazz, 93-84, on Sunday.PLANTATION, Fla. - The former NFL fullback entered the room with a wobble in his walk, and needed assistance climbing a podium so he could face a media throng and discuss his death-defying 16-hour swim to shore.Rob Konrad sipped from a bottle of water, his efforts to rehydrate ongoing four days after the episode. His wife sat at his side rubbing his leg in support, and tears welled in their eyes as he spoke Monday.Happy to be here, he began with a wry smile.I shouldnt be here, he said later, his voice cracking.The 38-year-old Konrads escape was a testament to willpower and world-class athleticism. The first reports of his adventure last week received worldwide attention.Even endurance swimmer Diana Nyad was impressed.Its an incredible story, Nyad said. Taking his life in his hands and deciding he was going to save himself, I admire him.Konrad, who played for the Miami Dolphins from 1999 to 2004, had been around boats since his childhood on Bostons North Shore. So he knew what it meant when he fell off his 31-foot Grady-White while fishing alone nine miles from land.A boaters nightmare, he said.He swam to Palm Beach, covering a distance of 27 miles before ringing the doorbell of an oceanfront home for help at 4:30 a.m. Thursday.The U.S. Coast Guard last week provided a brief summary of the events. Konrad, still weak after several days in the hospital for treatment of hypothermia and dehydration, held a news conference to fill in the details.They were hard to believe, he and his wife agreed.It was a miracle he made it home, Tammy Konrad said.Her husband said he was taking his boat for servicing last Wednesday and decided to do a little fishing along the way. He had caught a large fish and was tending to the rod when a large wave hit, flipping Konrad into the ocean.His boat was on autopilot and headed east. There were no other boats in sight. Konrad wasnt wearing a life preserver. It was 12:30 p.m.I realized I was in some real trouble, he said.Konrad quickly decided to swim toward shore, although he figured the trip would take more than 10 hhours, and feared succumbing to hypothermia or cramps after two or three hours.ddddddddddddThe ocean temperature was in the low 70s — far from frigid, but a lot colder than his body temperature.So Konrad decided hed better keep moving. He took off his shirt and began alternating between a breaststroke and backstroke.He said hes not much of a swimmer, but Nyad figures his football experience made a big difference.Were not really talking about a swimming story. Were talking about a survival story, Nyad said. Im sure his background as an athlete — toughness, having resolve, knowing things are going to be painful — were the saving grace for him.Konrad said he got bit by a whole bunch of stuff. A shark circled before moved along.There was a lot of stuff glowing at night, probably some jellyfish, he said.He could also see lights along the coast and pick out landmarks. As he tired, he gained emotional strength.Five or six hours in I realized, Maybe I can do this, he said.Twice he was nearly rescued. A recreational fishing boat approached to within 50 yards, but Konrad couldnt flag it down. Then a Coast Guard helicopter searching for him flew overhead.They had their lights on me and kept going. They didnt see me. That was a difficult time.But the ex-Dolphin kept swimming, thinking of his daughters, ages 8 and 10.He had two angels on his back, his wife said.I was probably pretty delirious at the time, but I could see the lights getting closer and closer, he said.Then the sound of the ocean changed. He could hear waves hitting the shore, and finally he reached land as well.The problem was I couldnt walk. My body was shaking uncontrollably. I crawled up on the beach and warmed myself up enough to be able to walk.Paramedics were summoned, and soon he was en route to the hospital. His boat was found near Grand Bahama Island on Deadmans Reef, the irony of the name not lost on Konrad. He had gone the other way.___AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and http://twitter.com/AP_NFL___Follow Steven Wine on Twitter: http://twitter.com/Steve_WineCheap Jerseys OnlineWholesale Authentic JerseysCheap Jerseys OnlineCheap Jerseys 2020Stitched JerseysWholesale Jerseys Free ShippingCheap Jerseys Wholesale ' ' '