Q: You sort of touched on this, but I was wondering going into this weekend's race, what are your expectations from a competitive standpoint as far as what you hope to accomplish, and what's the team's expectations of you to do, and are they different in any way? In other words, are you going to go out there and obviously you hope to win, and is the team saying, look, we just want a good finish out of here?
MAX PAPIS: How I look at this, and I told Zippy this yesterday, as well: I'm 42 years old. I'm proud of what I've done so far in my career. I don't look at this like a career-changing, I look at this like an amazing opportunity in a terrible circumstances, and that's it. I'm just going to go out there and enjoy every lap I have, enjoy every second I have with the guys, and keep that seat warm for Smoke until he's going to come back. And who knows, maybe in the future we're going to have some laughs to share about what I did in this car or anything. You never know.
I think that things are written, and I believe that sometimes if you push for opportunities, they don't come, and sometimes things come because of [other] reasons. There are hundreds of guys out there that can drive this car, but I always say it's not about the money you make, it's not about anything that you do, but it's about the story you write. And I guess that so far I've been writing a pretty decent story to get a call from Stewart-Haas Racing.
Q: Have you spoken to Tony at all?
MAX PAPIS: No, I didn't talk to Tony. I sent him an email when I was testing his car telling him that his lap belt fit me, so it was actually funny stuff. I don't tell you the answer...
I only talked to the crew chief and Zippy. Obviously it was very short notice. I was going to go and do an appearance yesterday. I turned my truck around with my kids in, and I came over here to work on the seat. Again, it's doing the best out of difficult circumstances.
Q: Do you know the exact location of Tony's fracture? How high it was above the ankle?
GREG ZIPADELLI: I don't know exactly where it is. It is above the ankle, below the knee. I hate to be so generic about where it was. A lot of the particulars and things, like I said, Tony is still in Iowa, and I talk to him. We get reports. He's doing OK. It'll be another, like I said, 24 to 48 hours before we have all the details.
MAX PAPIS: The thing he told me is he's going to be able to have kids in the future, so that's no problem!
Q: Greg, you just said that you had talked to Tony. How are his spirits, and has he told you that he's ready to get in a sprint car again so don't ask him not to do it?
GREG ZIPADELLI: I didn't give him the opportunity to tell me he's ready to get in. I told him to hurry up and get his butt down here because I was going to break his other leg, like some of my ancestors used to do, old school, and maybe beat him with it, jokingly. But he's in good spirits, a lot of pain, trying to get comfortable, but overall he's obviously worried about what everybody thought and apologetic and feels like he's letting everybody down here. At the end of the day the reason we're all here is because of him, so I know he'll get back in it and make it up to us.
Q: I assume you were joking when you said that you'd break his other leg, but will you actually sit down and talk to him and discuss whether he should be racing outside events, and will you suggest that he not?
GREG ZIPADELLI: Yeah, I think a lot of that stuff will take care of itself in time here. Most importantly is that he gets healed and gets the proper attention that he needs so that it's not something that bothers him down the rest of his life and we get him back in this 14 car. What he races down the road, like I said, I think it opens up a lot of discussions, and I think it's way too early to really get in the middle of any of these details.
Q: I know you can't answer a lot of questions looking forward, but as Tony talks about being in a racecar, it's almost like it keeps him mentally straight to be in a car. Can you imagine a Tony Stewart out of a car for a number of weeks, and how will his being out of the car affect what information the team can get or what he provides the other teams at Stewart-Haas?
GREG ZIPADELLI: I think it's you guys that are afraid of him out of a car and what he'll be like in a couple of weeks, back hobbling around!
No, I never imagined this. He is old-school, tough, we'll just deal with it and get the job done to the best of his ability, which is usually pretty darned good.
As a company, like I said, we'll do our best. We'll hopefully get him healed up and to the racetrack and being part of this group and team as soon as we can and get him back in the car as soon as he can and keep his thoughts.
As far as what the team is doing and the racecar and all those things, we'll do our best to keep him in the loop and take the information that he has. Yesterday in between doctors' visits and this and that, we texted and we talked, and we talked about Max and some other people, and he's been as big a part of the decisions that have been made here right now as anybody else.
Max, you were slated for the Rolex race at Road America this weekend, and fresh off your first win at Indianapolis a couple weeks ago (LEFT), what was the process of being able to get out of that and take this opportunity and have you talked with your team about their plans this weekend?
MAX PAPIS: That's a good question. I was ready, and here at Stewart-Haas Racing we had actually everything organized for me to go and run the Grand-Am race there in Elkhart Lake. We had a plane organized and everything. But first of all, I need to say thanks for Remo Ferri Racing. I talked to Remo yesterday. He's a good friend of mine for many years. And I told him I was going to actually be at the track tomorrow testing, go back to Watkins Glen on Friday and Saturday, and fly back with Boris [Said] or someone back for the race.
But he told me that he felt that it would have been a better thing for me to stay focused and help Stewart-Haas Racing in this great opportunity for me and in this difficult circumstances.
In one way I was a little sad because I feel that I'm an old-style guy. I feel like there are only a few left, like Stewart, like me, like maybe Mario Andretti, where you go and drive a Sprint Cup car, you go and drive a sports car, you go and drive a midget the day after, and that's a little different. So I'm sad I'm not going to be there, but I want to thank them for the opportunity and that they are going to let me stay focused on this and helping Stewart-Haas Racing.
I guess that I need to find myself something to do in the afternoon of Saturday because when the qualifying is finished, maybe there's not going to be much to do. I might just maybe go and watch the Grand-Am race on TV or something like that!