Tony Stewart is the winningest active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International, heading into Sunday’s Cup race at the track. But Stewart won’t be in the race field this weekend. Instead, Max Papis will be behind the wheel of the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet.
Stewart, a five-time winner at The Glen, underwent surgery to repair a broken tibia and fibula in his right leg on Tuesday morning. He suffered the broken bones in a sprint car crash on Monday night at Southern Iowa Speedway in Oskaloosa, Iowa. Monday’s surgery was a preliminary procedure to stabilize and clean the Grade 2 injury. According to a press release from Stewart-Haas Racing, he will remain hospitalized for observation and a second surgery will be necessary. The release did not mention how many other races Stewart will miss.
Stewart currently occupies the 11th position in the championship points standings with a single win. Five races, including Sunday’s race at The Glen, remain before the cutoff to get into the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Two other drivers between 11th and 20th in points have one win — Martin Truex Jr. and Ryan Newman. The 12 drivers who’ll be in the Chase include the top-10 in points following the Sept. 7 race at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway and the two drivers between 11th and 20th in points with the most wins. In the case of a wins tie between 11th and 20th, points will break the tie. No driver between 11th and 20th currently have multiple wins.
Papis has 35-career starts at NASCAR’s Sprint Cup level. His best finish was an eighth-place showing at Watkins Glen in 2009. He is a seven-tie winner in the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series. Those wins include a Daytona Prototype victory at The Glen in 2004. It just so happens that Papis tested the No. 14 car for Stewart at Road Atlanta in Braselton, Ga., on July 30.
– Photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR