Max Papis may have just gotten the opportunity of a lifetime.
But not the way he necessarily would want it to happen.
Following a sprint car crash Monday night in Oskaloosa, Iowa, Tony Stewart suffered a broken tibia and fibula in his right leg and underwent surgery early Tuesday morning.
The surgery served as a preliminary procedure to stabilize and clean the Grade 2 injury and a second surgery for the three-time Sprint Cup Series champion will be required.
Due to the injury, Stewart will miss at least Sunday’s upcoming Sprint Cup Series race at Watkins Glen International meaning Papis will take Stewart’s place behind the wheel of the No.14 Chevrolet this weekend.
Papis, 43, has made 35 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts, with a career-best finish of eighth in 2009 at Watkins Glen. He has competed in Formula One, Indy car, sports cars and other NASCAR divisions, including the Nationwide Series, Camping World Truck Series and Canadian Tire Series.
The Como, Italy native recently won the second annual Brickyard Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway competing in the GT class and has made two Nationwide Series starts in 2013 for Richard Childress Racing at Road America and Iowa Speedway.
Papis tested the No.14 Chevrolet July 30 at Road Atlanta in Braselton, Ga.
No timetable of return for Stewart has been announced by Stewart Haas Racing.
“Thank you for all the prayers and well wishes. My team will remain strong and I will be back,” Stewart said in a statement to fans Tuesday afternoon.
Sunday will mark the first time in Stewart’s Cup career – spanning 521 races – that he will miss a race.