“I saw him Wednesday night before his surgery,” said Zipadelli. “I talked to him yesterday after everything went well, as good as could be expected. It’s going to be a day-by-day situation right now, with (the risk of) infections and things of that nature. Hopefully, it will turn into a week-by-week.
“Probably Sunday or Monday, we will know a lot more. We will see what doctors say at the beginning of the week and go from there.
“He was in as good of spirits as he could be in,” Zipadelli said. “He’s a little bit down. He felt like he let a lot of people down, so I know the support he has gotten from the fans and the racers has helped him a lot. We talked about that and it’s cool the outreach that this area has given him.”
Zipadelli said his would prefer to put a single driver in the No. 14 Chevrolet in coming weeks, rather than working with a revolving cast of wheelmen. Scheduling issues could make that difficult, however.
|Stewart underwent second surgery yesterday|
“We are looking right now at Michigan, Bristol and those (tracks),” he said. “We would love to put somebody in the car until Tony comes back. The problem we are faced with next week is that if you lay out the Nationwide schedule at Mid-Ohio and (ours) in Michigan, they don’t match up very well. Somebody could do two half-assed jobs (by attempting to run both), or we can try and find somebody that is out of the norm, put them in the car, go to Michigan and do the best we can.
“Hopefully (at) Bristol, we can pick-up with one person that may be able to do the rest of it. Obviously, it would be a Nationwide driver. There are an awful lot of people that have reached out (and) a lot of people would love to get in that car. There are a couple of really good people that we have talked to, (but) right now we are taking it slow.
“We spent a lot of time on that this week,” he said. “We had a lot of (discussion) with our sponsors and we are trying to keep them as involved as we can. They are very important partners to Stewart-Haas and our future. We are trying to weed out (drivers), give them some options and get their input.
|Stewart now "week to week."|
“If we have anything to fight for right now, it’s owner’s points, representing our sponsors the best we can and getting that car to perform at the highest level. We owe that to them. Finishing these races and collecting owner’s points is obviously a very big deal.”
While Stewart will not return to the driver’s seat for a number of weeks, Zipadelli said the three-time Sprint Cup Series champion is already re-involving himself in the decision making process.
“He has been involved,” revealed Zipadelli. “He was in and out (of contact) Tuesday and Wednesday, but we shot him a text and talked to him about Max and a couple of our options. He was all about Max getting in and doing it. He didn’t question it and actually sounded pretty excited about it.
“I’m that thinking tonight (or) tomorrow, I will be able to spend a little more time talking to him and get his input, as well. We have got a little bit of time before we need to make that decision. Before we leave here Sunday or Monday morning, we need to know what we are doing when we get home. I will probably take all of that time to make sure we make the right decision and move forward from there.”
While admitting that the best case scenario would have Stewart return in time for the Atlanta or Richmond races, Zipadelli downplayed the possibility of salvaging a spot in the 2013 Chase.
“It’s going to be a few weeks before we can even look at that,” he said. “Right now, it will be a week-to-week prognosis on him. It will (also) be week-to-week for us as a team to try and put the best candidate we can in it at each race track. We will go from there.”
The SHR Competition Director said he expects Stewart to struggle in his new role as spectator, adding, “I think that is a really difficult moment for anybody that has been in the sport and raced. I think his personality -- as much of a racer as he is – it will be harder on him than anybody else. When you look at the consecutive starts that he has had, how many races he has run… and now he can’t get in his car. I imagine that would be really tough on him.
“We will all be there to support him,” he promised. “It’s still his car, he’s just out for a temporary spell. We will do the best we can to try and keep him cheered up as a group. He loves racing and (knew something like this could happen). It’s here now and we are just going to do the best we can to navigate through the obstructions that we have, one day at a time.
Before you know it, we will be talking about him getting back in (the car). It will be business as usual.”