On Monday night, Tony Stewart’s racing season suddenly took a very disastrous turn. His wreck in a sprint car race, the third he’s had in the last month, caused a much bigger headache than torn up equipment.
Stewart suffered a broken right leg, fracturing both bones, the tibia and fibula.
He had surgery originally on Tuesday and another surgery on Friday. According to ESPN’s Dr. Jerry Punch, a physician himself, Stewart’s first surgery was to prevent any infection in the wound. His tibia caused enough pressure to cause the break in the smaller fibula bone, which if it breaks the skin it’ prone to infection. The second surgery entering the weekend was to reset the broken bones in his leg using metal rods to position the bones for healing.
Stewart was still in a North Carolina hospital on Sunday when NASCAR was at Watkins Glen International, running the Cheez-It 355 at the Glen.
Max Papis, who tested with Stewart’s No. 14 Mobil 1/Bass Pro Shops team at Road Atlanta, was tabbed to drive the car for Stewart at that race, finishing a respectable 15th.
However, Stewart’s road to recovery is one that is going to be long, and patience will be needed according to Dr. Punch.
He stated before the race got under way that an injury of this type, where both bones in the leg are broken, could take anywhere from four to seven months to fully heal, with the average being about six months.
Even with the minimum amount of time for recovery, Stewart is possibly done for the remainder of the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup season. Entering Michigan next weekend, no driver has been named to replace Stewart in his car for that weekend, or the near future. As of now, it is still unclear as to the amount of time that Stewart will be out of action.
Stewart possibly will be released from the hospital later Sunday night.
The Stewart-Haas team confirmed that a few hours after Sunday’s race, Stewart was released from the hospital and was resting at home. It was revealed via the team’s Twitter account, saying Stewart was “resting as comfortably as he can at home. Thx (sic) for the thoughts and prayers. #SmokeWillRise”.
An announcement is expected later Monday as to who will drive the No. 14 Chevrolet at Michigan and likely another driver to take over after that to handle the remaining races if and until Stewart is cleared to race again.
Monday afternoon, Tony Stewart and team announced their replacement driver for Michigan as Austin Dillon, who on a regular basis drives for Richard Childress Racing in the Nationwide Series in the No. 3 Advocare Chevrolet Camaro.
“I’ve watched Austin for many years and at each stage of his racing career he’s been successful,” Stewart said. “He’s proven to be a very fast learner, and he’s able to adapt quickly. Being the youngest champion in the history of the Truck Series is proof of that. His background in dirt racing is an asset, and off the track we share many of the same interests, specifically, hunting and fishing. I know he’ll perform well at Michigan and I’m just as confident in his ability to properly represent Mobil 1 and Bass Pro Shops throughout the race weekend.”
Dillon has made some starts in Sprint Cup this season in the No. 33 Chevrolet, and was also the winner in the inaugural Camping World Truck Series race at Eldora Speedway, the dirt track in Ohio owned by Stewart.
It was made official on Monday as Stewart-Haas Racing announced that Tony Stewart will not return to the seat of his No. 14 Chevrolet this season. However, plans have been finalized as to who will replace him for the remainder of the year.
After rumors started swirling on Sunday, speculation ended with the announcement that beginning this week at Bristol, veteran driver Mark Martin will take the wheel of the No. 14. for 12 of the remaining 13 races. Martin normally is a part-time driver in the No. 55 Toyota for Michael Waltrip Racing, however he was granted an early release from his contract, which was set to expire at the end of the year, to run for Stewart-Haas Racing.
The only race Martin will not be driving will be at Talladega, where Austin Dillon will again take the wheel.
With Martin out of the No. 55, Brian Vickers will take over driving duties in that car beginning at Bristol, and will run the same schedule as Martin. The lone race that Vickers will not drive the No. 55 will be Talladega, as Waltrip himself will be at the controls.
Representatives from Stewart-Haas Racing believe Stewart will be healed completely by the time testing at Daytona begins next year.