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Aside from a minor arm injury in the 2006 Chili Bowl, and a banged up shoulder that required a relief driver in a NASCAR race later that same season, Tony Stewart has walked away unscathed from many harrowing wrecks.

It was something everyone around him had seemingly taken for granted until Monday night, when the three-time NASCAR champion broke his right leg in a sprint car race in Iowa.

''He's run so many of these races and flipped in those things, I think me and him and everybody around us didn't think Superman could get hurt; this is his day,'' Greg Zipadelli, his longtime crew chief and the current competition director at Stewart-Haas Racing, said Wednesday.

Zipadelli has never been the biggest fan of Stewart's extracurricular racing and was his crew chief both times Stewart ran the Indianapolis 500 and Coca-Cola 600 double on the same day. But he's understood Stewart's passion to drive anything at any time, and doesn't try to interfere.

And for 15 years, 521 races, 48 wins and three NASCAR championships, none of Stewart's extra activities interfered. But now the star of the organization is in an Iowa hospital, recovering from surgery to stabilize and clean a Grade 2 break to his tibia and fibula in his right leg, and awaiting a second surgery that will give the team a better indication of what his recovery time will be and what the organization will need to do for the coming weeks.

For now, all Zipadelli knows for sure is that road course ace Max Papis will drive the No. 14 Chevrolet this weekend at Watkins Glen, where Stewart is a five-time winner, and that they'll need to find another replacement driver for at least the next few weeks.

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