Shortly after Max Papis turned in a 15th-place effort Sunday at Watkins Glen while subbing for the injured Tony Stewart, Stewart-Haas Racing tweeted that the three-time Sprint Cup champion had been released from the hospital.
“#TonyStewart is out of the hospital & resting as comfortably as he can at home. Thx [thanks] for the thoughts & prayers,” said SHR’s tweet, which ended with the hashtag #SmokeWillRise.
But the question of when Stewart will be back in action after breaking two bones in his right leg in a Monday night sprint car crash in Iowa may not be answered for some time yet.
“Smoke,” who had been one of the two Wild Card holders for the Chase before his injury, has already undergone two operations to try and fix the damage. The next potential substitute driver for Stewart could be named by SHR as early as tomorrow.
As for Sunday, Papis overcame getting spun out by Greg Biffle in the middle stages of the race and also getting into the back of a slowing Marcos Ambrose in a crash that came just after a restart with six laps left.
“I felt that we were definitely inbound to have a Top 10 finish,” said Papis after the race. “Really glad that Greg Biffle came over and apologized. When he turned me around, he said it was totally his mistake. I think that really cost us a solid Top 10.
“Besides this, I drove the wheels off the car every lap. Super proud of keeping the seat of “Smoke” as warm as I could. I felt I did a pretty good job and I’m proud of myself.”
MotorSportsTalk continues its annual review of the Verizon IndyCar Series drivers that raced in 2017. The 2017 season behind the wheel was better for Ed Carpenter than either of the last two years, but still wasn’t ideal results-wise in his six oval starts.
Ed Carpenter, No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet
- 2016: 25th Place (5 Starts), Best Finish 18th, Best Start 5th, 0 Top-5, 0 Top-10, 1 Lap Led, 11.2 Avg. Start, 21.8 Avg. Finish
- 2017: 22nd Place (6 Starts), Best Finish 7th, Best Start 2nd, 0 Top-5, 1 Top-10, 5 Laps Led, 11.3 Avg. Start, 12.3 Avg. Finish
Ed Carpenter’s 2017 season was largely one of frustration, both behind the wheel and as a team owner.
While a respectable turnaround in results occurred – Carpenter finished between seventh and 12th in five of his six oval races after a nightmare season of ending 18th or worse in each of his 2016 starts – this is still not what he sets out to strive for in the races he does. Lost opportunities loomed larger than any official result he or the Ed Carpenter Racing team achieved.
Carpenter and new teammate JR Hildebrand, in for the departed Josef Newgarden, dominated preseason testing in Phoenix but Hildebrand could only muster third in the race, Carpenter a season-best seventh. Then at Indianapolis, Carpenter (second) and Hildebrand (sixth) flew the flag for Chevrolet in qualifying and practice pace, but they fell to 11th and 16th on race day owing to a front-wing change and late-race penalty for passing before a restart.
Both drivers got collected in incidents at Texas. Hildebrand qualified and finished a season-best second in Iowa but that result came only after the ECR crew rebuilt his car from a crash in practice. Then Carpenter had a practice crash in Pocono and despite a rapid rebuild, they missed the clock to qualify by mere minutes and were unable to do so. Carpenter’s spin on a slick Gateway track at the start of the race sent him over Will Power’s nose assembly in one of the scarier looking incidents of the year, although fortunately he was OK.
In a similar refrain as we often write, it’s not that Carpenter’s lost his ability to drive and he remains one of the series’ savviest and smartest people in the paddock. There have been a lot of extenuating circumstances of late, and it almost felt as though this team had “empty nest” components. Since September, Carpenter has had to secure his team’s future with a move away from its Speedway, Ind. shop, line up Spencer Pigot for a full-time drive replacing Hildebrand in the No. 21 car, find a new road/street course driver in the No. 20 car, and manage both driving and owning himself.