Ty Dillon will be the interim replacement driver for Tony Stewart in the #14 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet for Sunday’s Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Stewart continues to recuperate from a fractured back. Dillon will also continue driving duties for the #14 Chevy for the second and third weeks in March at Phoenix International Raceway and the following week at Auto Club Speedway.
Stewart, 44, underwent surgery to repair to burst fracture of his L1 vertebra on Feb. 3 for an injury he suffered while riding in an all-terrain vehicle accident while with a group in Southern California on Jan. 31. Stewart is expected to make a full recovery and return to the #14 Chevrolet later this season. Prior to the end of last season in September Stewart made the decision to announce his retirement with 2016 as his final year as a full-time Sprint Cup driver.
“Honestly, every day just keeps getting better and better,” said Stewart. “I’m getting stronger and getting more mobile.”
Dillon, will turn 24 on Saturday, and has competed in eight career NASCAR Sprint Cup races, including this past Sunday’s Daytona 500, he finished 25th at Daytona International Speedway in a car owned by the Leavine Family Racing. Dillon’s first NASCAR Sprint Cup start came at Atlanta in the 2014 race where he finished 25th; Dillon has struggled at other 1.5 mile tracks at Kansas (26th place finish) and Homestead-Miami (23rd place finish) to date Dillon’s best finishes in a Sprint Cup car have been 14th at Michigan International Speedway last June with a 14th place finish and one week previous at Pocono Raceway with an 18th place finish.
Dillon is the younger brother of Richard Childress Racing’s Austin Dillon, and has been racing in the NASCAR XFinity Series since 2012, amounting one win and 20 top-five finishes. Dillon ranked third in the final 2015 XFinity standings and fifth in 2014. This will not be the first time a member of the Dillon family took on driving duties for an injured Stewart; in 2013 Austin Dillon drove the #14 Chevrolet at Michigan and Talladega Superspeedway, after Stewart broke his leg.
Dillon tweeted his appreciation Tuesday afternoon: “What an honor to drive Tony’s @BassProShops Chevy the weekend @amsupdates hope he gets better soon. Mean time, I’ll give it all I got!”
Brian Vickers was called in to pilot the #14 Chevrolet during the Daytona 500 and finished 26th. Vickers will return to the #14 the following weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the Kobalt Tools 400 according to the team.