Sports

Tony Stewart ready to get back in a car and win races after a difficult 2 years

Stewart-Haas Racing drivers, from left, Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch, and Danica Patrick pose for a photo during the NASCAR Charlotte Motor Speedway media tour in Charlotte, N.C., Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2015. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

Stewart-Haas Racing drivers, from left, Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch, and Danica Patrick pose for a photo during the NASCAR Charlotte Motor Speedway media tour in Charlotte, N.C., Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2015. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)  (The Associated Press)

Tony Stewart, walking without a limp for the first time in 18 months, declared himself pain-free and never more eager to start a season.

After a tumultuous two seasons that affected him both physically and mentally, the three-time NASCAR champion said Tuesday his troubles are behind him and he finally feels like the old Smoke again.

His chance to prove it begins next month at Daytona International Speedway, where Stewart will climb back into his No. 14 Chevrolet for the first time since November, when his 15-year winning streak in the Sprint Cup Series came to an end.

He failed to win a race for the first time since his 1999 rookie season.