Jeff Gordon, Ray Evernham and NHRA legend Don Prudhomme all played an instrumental role in aiding Tony Stewart, who was injured while driving a dune buggy in the Southern California desert Sunday.
Stewart was part of a group that included Gordon, Evernham, Prudhomme, Rusty Wallace, Greg Biffle and car collector Ron Pratte when Stewart unexpectedly flew over a large sand mound and landed with such force it caused a burst fracture of his L1 vertebrate.
Prudhomme recapped the series of events to Jerry Bonkowski of NBC Sports, saying Stewart was not "driving reckless or crazy," but merely took a wrong turn and became separated from the party for roughly 90 minutes.
"What happens in the dunes, there was kind of a big mound and he flew over it and came down hard on the shocks," Prudhomme said. "In other words, it bottomed itself out. What happened then, it drove the seat up into his ass, basically. It was like, BAM! He hit really hard, but we were running pretty fast.
"We pulled up, asked ‘How you doing, dude?' He was on the ground and said his back's hurt. We made sure he could move all his legs and everything, so everything was good there."
Stewart's buggy never flipped or rolled, according to Prudhomme, who credits Evernham with taking charge and assuring Stewart was taken care of properly. Evernham is Gordon's former crew chief with the pair winning three Cup Series championships in the 1990s.
Stewart was alert and conscious throughout the ordeal.
"Ray Evernham is a real good guy, a real responsible guy," Prudhomme said. "He's been around situations like this before. Basically we got (Tony) into Ron's cart and Ron drove him real slowly out of there. (Tony) was holding himself up, as if his ass was real sore.
"Ron has a place in the area, so he had his helicopter fly over and land on this pavement because he couldn't land on the sand. Tony had his arm around my shoulder and had another arm around Ray's shoulder and Gordon was holding him up by the belt. He was walking real slow and we got him into the helicopter and laid him in the back seat.
"Ray got in the helicopter to go to the hospital. The pilot said he was going to Palm Springs Hospital and got on the radio. Ray was the best guy for the job, so he went with Tony and looked over Tony until midnight."
Prudhomme described Stewart as "tough son-of-a-bitch" to NBC Sports, admitting the incident "scared the s*** out of us guys." He and Pratte visited Stewart the next day in the hospital.
"We sat in the room and he was showing us X-rays and s*** and talking," Prudhomme said. "Tony's Tony. He looked at me like he could just get up and walk out of there, but he couldn't. But he looked great.
"... It didn't look like he was going to have to be operated on. It was just going to be where they were going to put a support on him. He walked around with the doctor early in the morning with a walker."
Stewart was flown back to Charlotte, N.C. Tuesday night and underwent surgery Wednesday. He is expected to make a "full recovery," according to Stewart-Haas Racing, the NASCAR team he co-owns.