Regan Smith or Austin Dillon would be open to replace Stewart (3rd Update) UPDATE #2
Austin Dillon, in the heat of the Nationwide Series championship battle, will welcome a bit of a distraction this weekend.
|The anointed one|
Dillon will drive the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing car in place of the injured Tony Stewart in the Sprint Cup race Sunday at Michigan International Speedway, the team announced Monday. Dillon, who leads Sam Hornish Jr. by three points and Regan Smith by five, has run well at Michigan — he drove a Richard Childress Racing car for Circle Sport Racing to an 11th-place finish at MIS in June.
The 23-year-old grandson (the anointed one being molded to drive the Earnhardt #3 even wears a black hat to play the part) of Richard Childress also has had a long relationship with Bass Pro Shops, one of Stewart’s primary sponsors.
“I’ve watched Austin for many years and at each stage of his racing career he’s been successful,” Stewart said in a statement. “He’s proven to be a very fast learner, and he’s able to adapt quickly.
“Being the youngest champion in the history of the Truck Series (in 2011) is proof of that. His background in dirt racing is an asset, and off the track we share many of the same interests, specifically hunting and fishing. I know he’ll perform well at Michigan and I’m just as confident in his ability to properly represent Mobil 1 and Bass Pro Shops throughout the race weekend.”
No replacement beyond Michigan was announced for Stewart, who is out indefinitely after breaking his right leg in an Aug. 5 accident while racing a sprint car at Southern Iowa Speedway. Sporting News08/12/13 Greg Zipadelli, competition director for Stewart-Haas Racing, said after the race [at Watkins Glen] that the team would make its decision Monday afternoon on who will drive Stewart's car next weekend at Michigan International Speedway. Zipadelli also said he hoped to have the team's plans for the rest of the year set by Wednesday. Although no timetable has been set for Stewart's return, indications are it's unlikely he'll race again this season.
"Some cards are falling by the hour," Zipadelli said. "We'll take (Sunday night) and work things out. I want to get with (Stewart), and make sure he agrees and is happy with what we're going to do." Zipadelli said he planned to talk to Stewart either Sunday night or Monday about the choice. Motor Racing Network
Nationwide Series points leader Austin Dillon confirmed he has had talks with Stewart-Haas Racing about possibly driving the No. 14 car in place of the injured Tony Stewart.
Dillon, a 23-year-old Richard Childress Racing driver, has strong ties and associate sponsorship from Bass Pro Shops, which also is a primary sponsor of Stewart in Cup.
Dillon has nine Cup starts and is expected to make the move full time to Cup in 2014. He recently won the truck race at Stewart's Eldora Speedway and also has strong ties to Stewart sponsor Chevrolet as well.
"We've been talking a little bit," Dillon said Saturday morning after Nationwide Series qualifying at Watkins Glen. "We'll see. I feel pretty confident that we can do it and be fine. Hopefully we can do some of them. I'd like to."
Stewart broke his right tibia and fibula in a crash Monday night racing a sprint car at Southern Iowa Speedway. He will miss at least three weeks and is expected to miss several more. He has had two surgeries, including one to put a metal rod in his leg.
SHR competition director Greg Zipadelli said Friday that the team is looking at a few Nationwide drivers to fill in during Stewart's absence. Dillon and Regan Smith — who are one-two in the Nationwide standings with 14 points separating them — are considered to be two of those.
Max Papis will fill in for Stewart this weekend at Watkins Glen. Zipadelli said Friday he would like to know by Monday who will fill in for the remainder of Stewart's absence. Sporting News
08/10/13 Dale Earnhardt Jr. said Friday he would be for JR Motorsports driver Regan Smith filling in for Tony Stewart even though Smith is racing for a Nationwide championship. Smith said that he "would be open to the possibilities" and has texted with Stewart-Haas Racing officials this week but not had formal conversations. Next week is [tricky] with the Sprint Cup series at Michigan International Speedway and the Nationwide Series competing at Mid-Ohio.
While both tracks are relatively close, their schedules do not align well. That would make it challenging for a driver to go back and forth. One option for Stewart-Haas Racing at Michigan could be Scott Riggs, who has tested on ovals for the team.
After that, the Cup and Nationwide Series will be together most of the rest of the year. The exception is when the Cup series races Sept. 22 at New Hampshire and Nationwide runs at Kentucky the day before. Smith, who is second in the Nationwide point standings to Austin Dillon, is a logical choice for a variety of reasons.
Smith has Cup experience, having run 171 races and won the 2011 Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway. Smith is an easy pick because of the ties to Hendrick Motorsports. Both Jr Motorsports and Stewart-Haas Racing have ties to car owner Rick Hendrick's team. Smith admits it would be a challenge to run both the JR Motorsports car in Nationwide and Stewart's Cup car, but he'd be for it if offered. Motor Racing Network