On Monday, Stewart-Haas Racing made an announcement that came as a shock to, perhaps, nobody — that Tony Stewart will be out for the remainder of the 2014 season as a result of the broken right tibia and fibula injuries he sustained in a sprint car crash earlier this month in Iowa. Stewart has already missed two races. Previously, his date of return was unknown.
“After consulting with Tony’s doctors and speaking with Tony, we agreed it was best for him to focus on his recovery,” Stewart-Haas Racing Competition Director Greg Zipadelli said.
In the two most recent races, Max Papis and Austin Dillon substituted for Stewart behind teh wheel of the No. 14 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series entry. According to Monday’s announcement from SHR, veteran racer Mark Martin will drive the No. 14 in all but but one of the races remaining this season. The only exception will be the Oct. 20 race at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. For that race, Dillon will return to the seat.
“For the No. 14 team, our focus is on positioning them for a run at the owner championship,” Zipadelli ssaid. “Mark Martin and Austin Dillon give us the best opportunity to do that, and we certainly appreciate Michael Waltrip Racing and Richard Childress Racing for making Mark and Austin available to us.”
Martin has driven the No. 55 car part-time for Michael Waltrip Racing the past two seasons. He still had some races remaining in his 2013 commitment to MWR, but Brian Vickers, with whom Martin has shared the No. 55 seat, will drive that car for most of the remainder of the season in preparation for driving that car full-time next year.
Martin has 40 Sprint Cup wins to his credit, along with 271 top-fives and 452 top-10 finishes in 870-career starts. Twenty-one of those wins have come on tracks at which Martin will be driving the No. 14 during the remainder of the season.
“Obviously, I’m disappointed to be out of the Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevy for so long, but the team is in very good hands with Mark Martin and Austin Dillon,” Stewart said. “Mark is someone I’ve looked up to my entire career, and I have a tremendous amount of respect for him. Austin is a great young talent, and he showed that Sunday at Michigan.”
Dillon finished 14th in the No. 14 car at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Mich., on Sunday. It was his 10th-career series start. Currently, Dillon is in his second season of full-time competition in the Nationwide Series, where his is fourth in the series championship points standings. He has raced part-time at the Sprint Cup level this year, primarily driving the No. 51 entry of Phoenix Racing and the No. 33 for Circle Sport through a deal with Richard Childress Racing, the team for which he races in the Nationwide Series.
– Photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR