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Published: Wednesday, 8/7/2013

Stewart expected to miss MIS race

BY RACHEL LENZI
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Tony Stewart drives in the garage area. Tony Stewart drives in the garage area.
AP Enlarge

Two days after Tony Stewart broke his right leg in a Sprint Car accident in Iowa, his team’s racing director said Wednesday that he expects the driver to miss at least two to three weeks of the NASCAR Sprint Cup schedule, including the Pure Michigan 400 on Aug. 18 at Michigan International Speedway.

“It’s a few weeks, so we need the next two or three weeks lined up, and that’s what we’re going to start working on this afternoon or tomorrow, and as soon as we have something, I promise we’ll do our best to get it out to you,” said Greg Zipadelli, Stewart-Haas Racing’s competition director. “But there’s nothing there now.”

Stewart, who is 11th in the Sprint Cup Series points standings, sustained the injury Monday night when his sprint car was involved in a multi-car accident at Southern Iowa Speedway in Oskaloosa, Iowa.

Sprint cars are open-wheel winged or nonwinged cars with engines between 700 and 900 horsepower, and Monday marked the third time in a month Stewart had been involved in a sprint car accident.

Zipadelli said Stewart will undergo a second surgery to repair a broken right fibula and tibia, and Max Papis will drive this weekend for Stewart at Watkins Glen International in the No. 14 Chevrolet. Papis — a native of Italy who has driven in the Formula One and Champ Car series — has 35 Sprint Cup starts.

“I’m 42 years old,” Papis said. “I’m proud of what I’ve done so far in my career. I look at this like an amazing opportunity in a terrible circumstances, and that’s it. I’m just going to go out there and enjoy every lap I have, enjoy every second I have with the guys, and keep that seat warm for Smoke until he’s going to come back.

“And who knows, maybe in the future we’re going to have some laughs to share about what I did in this car or anything. You never know.”

Stewart-Haas Racing has not yet selected a driver for the Pure Michigan 400.

“As far as next week and on, we’ve got a few candidates, and we’re talking to a few people. We’ve got a lot of people that have obviously reached out,” Zipadelli said. “We’re not sure if we can put one person in until Tony gets back or we’re going to have to do multiple people.

“Our main priority was this was such short notice, and it was to get Max in here, get the seat and all the things that we needed to change in this car, and get this car headed to Watkins Glen.

"Then we’ll get behind some closed doors and kind of really decide who will be the best candidate for the 14 car and SHR to try and maintain what we can in owner’s points.”

Contact Rachel Lenzi at: rlenzi@theblade.com, 419-724-6510, or on Twitter @RLenziBlade.



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