Zipadelli: We didn’t think Stewart could get hurt

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Stewart Haas Racing competition director Greg Zipadelli said Wednesday that Tony Stewart finally met his kryptonite.

“Tony, that’s his golf game. That’s his hunting. We’re probably lucky this is the first time were dealing with this,” his longtime crew chief said on a media conference call. “Me, him and everyone around us didn’t think Superman could get hurt.”

Indeed the broken tibia and fibula has sidelined Stewart for an indefinite period of time, ending a 521-race long consecutive start streak that was third among active drivers (Jeff Gordon, Jeff Burton). The three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion has already had one surgery with a second scheduled.

As far as the driver goes for the No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet, it’s Max Papis this week and according to Zipadelli, the next two or three weeks need to be lined up quickly.

There are several candidates in mind and while Zipadelli didn’t bite on who, there are a couple you can identify either yes or no via process of elimination.

For one, Kevin Harvick won’t be making an early switch to his 2014 employer. He’s locked down with Richard Childress Racing through the remainder of the season and will seek his first Cup championship for that partnership while trying to avoid “lame duck” status. He sits fourth in points.

Regan Smith or AJ Allmendinger could work. Both have fallen out of Sprint Cup on a full-time basis, although Smith is locked in a battle for the Nationwide Series championship.

Zipadelli said though that Stewart, known for his brash, unfiltered nature, felt as though he was letting the team down.

“He’s in good spirits, but he is worried and apologetic,” Zipadelli said. “He feels like he’s letting everyone down. We’re all here because of him. He’ll make it up to us.”

Zipadelli added that he has spoken to team sponsors, who were “disappointed,” but now actively engaged in discussions with who best could represent their brand for the upcoming races.

Stewart sits 11th in points with one win but will fall from any title contention within the next race or two.