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Auto notes: Stewart not expected back soon

Injured NASCAR driver Tony Stewart is expected to be off the track for another month, and perhaps longer. (Associated Press)
Injured NASCAR driver Tony Stewart is expected to be off the track for another month, and perhaps longer. (Associated Press)

While Tony Stewart recovers from a broken leg, his team is still figuring out how to move on without him.

“I’m working under the assumption that he’s out for the next month or so or longer,” said Greg Zipadelli, competition director at Stewart-Haas Racing. “He went to the doctor’s this week, he had a decent visit. No setbacks. Basically, very simple instructions – stay in bed with your leg up over your heart for the next seven days.”

Stewart broke his right leg in a sprint car crash Aug. 5 at Southern Iowa Speedway. He was released from the hospital last weekend.

Austin Dillon is racing in Stewart’s No. 14 Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series at Michigan International Speedway this week, but the schedule beyond that is unclear.

“We’re certainly looking at trying probably in the next three to four days – before we get to Bristol everything will be ironed out for the rest of the year,” Zipadelli said Friday. “It will be two drivers probably the rest of the year … just try to get them guys to try to build some chemistry and get the best finishes we can.”

It’ll be tight fit at Mid-Ohio

NASCAR Nationwide Series races can be treacherous, with large, fast cars competing for tight space in the corners.

Now imagine putting 40 of those four-wheeled missiles on a twisty road course with 13 turns over 2.25 miles of a narrow ribbon of pavement.

No wonder almost everyone is expecting lots of rumpled fenders and crumpled trackside fences when the series races for the first time at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in the inaugural Nationwide Children’s Hospital 200 today in Lexington, Ohio.

“There’s certainly the potential for a full-contact race,” Regan Smith, third in the driver points standings, said with laugh. “There’s a lot of areas on the race track where it’s probably not a passing zone, but you can claim that you had your nose in on the guy. It just depends on how guys want to race on today – if they want to dive-bomb and be dirty, then you’re going to wreck the car in front of you.”

All of the top drivers – Austin Dillon, Sam Hornish Jr., Smith, Elliott Sadler and Brian Vickers make up the top five in the standings – anticipate a wild day of racing in the 90-lap, 203-mile event contested over the rolling hills midway between Cleveland and Columbus.

Montoya continues to weigh options

No matter what kind of car he’s in next year, Juan Pablo Montoya is eager to start winning again.

That was the message the 37-year-old driver repeated throughout a brief session with reporters Friday at Michigan International Speedway. Montoya won’t be back with longtime team owner Chip Ganassi for an eighth NASCAR season, and the Colombian driver’s future is very much up in the air.

Montoya wasn’t tipping his hand Friday.

“I’ve talked to a lot of people – put it that way,” he said. “I don’t want to be specific about anybody. I know some people are interested.”

Montoya’s goal is pretty simple.

“The only thing I said already is, I want to be in a winning car,” he said. “Don’t know what I’m going to do, but I want to make sure I’m in a winning car.”