- Did you mean:
Stewart-Haas reveals Harvick's Darlington paint scheme
RELATED: Buy Darlington tickets " '16 throwback schemes SHOP: Harvick gear Stewart-Haas Racing unveiled Kevin Harvick 's retro paint scheme on Thursday for Darlington Raceway 's annual Bojangles' Southern 500 (Sunday, Sept. 4, 6 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). . @KevinHarvick will pilot this No. 4 @BuschBeer Chevrolet for the #Southern500 at @TooToughToTame . #NASCARThrowback pic.twitter.com/SjwNSAHPZh — Stewart-Haas Racing (@StewartHaasRcng) April 14, 2016 Aligning with the Southern 500's 1975-1984 era throwback theme, the No. 4 Busch Beer Chevrolet SS pays homage to NASCAR champion and Hall of Famer Cale Yarborough's 1979 Daytona 500 car. This particular "Great American Race" was also significant because it marked the first 500-mile event NASCAR broadcast entirely on television. Yarborough, a three-time champion in NASCAR's premier series, drove the No. 11 Busch Beer ride from 1979 through 1980, earning 10 wins, 38 top-fives and 15 poles during the two-season stretch. He also won five Southern 500 races during his decorated career -- 1968, 1973, 1974, 1978 and 1982. Harvick's scheme is one of several throwback schemes to be unveiled this week. Stewart-Haas Racing also recently revealed Danica Patrick 's retro No. 10 scheme via the team's Twitter account Wednesday. RELATED: SHR unveils Danica's Darlington look
Stewart revved up on eve of return to racing
RACE DAY LINKS: Starting lineup " Full Sunday schedule " Every paint scheme RICHMOND, Va. -- Tony Stewart was smiling, friendly and even a bit chatty talking with crew members as he left his Richmond International Raceway garage stall long after most drivers had called it a day following final practice for Sunday's Toyota Owners 400 (1 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). The feeling he conveyed Saturday morning was unmistakable. He is happy to be back and there genuinely appears no one more excited to take this weekend's green flag. And it's a good bet he'll receive quite the ovation from the Richmond crowd when he's introduced. Stewart will start his No. 14 Mobil 1 Chevrolet 18th on the 40-car grid -- his first start since the 2015 Sprint Cup Series finale in November at Homestead-Miami Speedway . He has spent the first eight races of the 2016 season healing from a broken back -- an injury sustained in an all-terrain vehicle accident on Jan. 31. In an interview with FOX before the race, Stewart was at ease and smiling, saying the conditions were perfect for his return -- the race is at Richmond, his favorite track, it's in the daytime and the track will get hot, leading to plenty of sliding. "I just expect to go do what I always do," Stewart said. "Just get in and do the best I can." Stewart surprised the racing world this week announcing his return to Cup competition via Twitter on Thursday. Well, the long wait is over. I'll be back in my @Mobil1 Chevy this weekend at Richmond. I can't wait to race again #SmokeWillRise — Tony Stewart (@TonyStewart) April 21, 2016 There has been a lot of welcoming for Stewart this weekend at Richmond. Although he is co-owner of the four-car Stewart-Haas Racing team and has been at several races in his ownership role, there was no mistaking his eagerness and energy as he returned to work as a driver. And the feeling was mutual, as NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty showed by embracing the three-time champ in the garage. Stewart didn't have any formal media sessions at Richmond, but addressed his whirlwind weekend in a tweet on Sunday morning. It's been overwhelming this weekend with friends, drivers, crew members, and officials welcoming me back as a driver. Makes me smile — Tony Stewart (@TonyStewart) April 24, 2016 After making his first start of 2016 here at the .75-mile track, Stewart will qualify and run opening laps next week at Talladega Superspeedway before having Ty Dillon replace him on the 2.66-mile track's high banks. In between, Stewart is scheduled to participate in a tire test at his "home" track, Indianapolis Motor Speedway , in preparation for his final Brickyard 400 on July 24. NASCAR granted Stewart a waiver, giving him an opportunity to make the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup if he wins a race and climbs to 30th in the points standings by the end of the Sept. 10 regular-season finale in Richmond. All the drivers within the top 30 in points with a victory automatically earn a Chase bid. If 16 drivers don't have wins, then the Chase positions go in order to those ranked highest in points among the top 30. "We are glad to have him back," Joey Logano said Friday. "The number 14 has been out there every week but Tony hasn't been in it so it is nice to have Tony back out in his final year. "I can imagine he wants to go out on a good note and it is nice to have him back in the car and be in that position where he loves to be and try to end his career on a high note." Richmond has historically been a good venue for Stewart. He has three wins here, 11 top-five and 19 top-10 finishes in 33 starts. His first career Cup victory was in 1999 at Richmond.
Drivers react to Tony Stewart's return to racing
Tony Stewart announced via Twitter on Thursday that he would return to driving the No. 14 Chevrolet in this weekend's NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Richmond International Raceway . Stewart had been sidelined since suffering a serious back injury in a Jan. 31 all-terrain vehicle incident. Both Brian Vickers and Ty Dillon have served as fill-in drivers for Stewart-Haas Racing 's No. 14 entry this season, which will be Stewart's last before he retires. Fellow drivers welcomed "Smoke" back with open arms by saying they are eager to see him on the track for the Toyota Owners 400 (1 p.m. ET Sunday, FOX.) So cool @TonyStewart is back he has an awesome group of guys led by @BugaMike14 the 14 fans are gonna be very happy this year. #getemsmoke — Ty Dillon (@tydillon) April 21, 2016 Just awesome to see the news @TonyStewart is back this weekend! Smoke!!!! — AJ Allmendinger (@AJDinger) April 21, 2016 https://t.co/4MWoV4vasi — Brad Keselowski (@keselowski) April 21, 2016 Welcome back! @TonyStewart — Darrell Wallace Jr (@BubbaWallace) April 21, 2016 Wow!!! @TonyStewart just broke Twitter! Glad to have you back racing ! Wasn't the same watching without ya. — Justin Allgaier (@J_Allgaier) April 21, 2016 Welcome back Smoke. Looking forward to racing with you @TonyStewart — Ryan Blaney (@Blaney) April 21, 2016 Heck yea @TonyStewart is back!!! — Matthew DiBenedetto (@mattdracing) April 21, 2016 Jeff Gordon , who retired after the 2015 season and was with Stewart on the excursion in the sand dunes near the California-Arizona border, was among those welcoming Stewart back on Twitter. Welcome back @TonyStewart ! Great news! Everyone is excited to have you back this weekend @NASCARONFOX & @RIRInsider ! — Jeff Gordon (@JeffGordonWeb) April 21, 2016 Stewart plans to qualify the No. 14 at Talladega but use a relief driver for the GEICO 500 on May 1 because of the high risk of a wreck at the superspeedway. Dale Earnhardt Jr ., however, doesn't see such a fierce competitor stepping out of his car. I say once he's in the car at Dega he doesn't get out. https://t.co/xLS8KA068c — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) April 21, 2016
Keselowski and Hendrick: What might have been
On April 18, 2009, Mark Martin won the Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix International Raceway . It was the 36th NASCAR premier series win for the 50-year-old driver and his first with team owner Rick Hendrick. A week and a day later, Brad Keselowski won the Aaron's 499 at Talladega Superspeedway . It was the first career win for the 25-year-old, and the first premier series victory for independent car owner James Finch. Two distinctly different races won by two distinctly different drivers. Martin's NASCAR career was beginning to wind down; Keselowski's, on the other hand, appeared to have only just begun. But there was one string that tied the two together -- Hendrick Motorsports . HMS was home to Martin, Jimmie Johnson , Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr . And it was expected by many to be the future home of the up-and-coming kid from Rochester Hills, Michigan. But a collection of factors that came together throughout the course of that season altered the racing landscape as well as the career path of Keselowski. It would be nearly three years before the next driver change at HMS. By then Keselowski had not only found a new home, but he was also on his way to winning the Sprint Cup championship. 'I WAS NOT GOING TO LOSE' The sun was out and the grandstands were packed when the 2009 Aaron's 499, the season's ninth Sprint Cup race, went green for the final time. As race leader Ryan Newman tried to keep Earnhardt Jr., the crowd favorite, in check, Keselowski darted to the inside behind Carl Edwards on the track's massive backstretch. It was a move that didn’t seem to mean much at the time. But at the start-finish line with two laps remaining, Edwards and Keselowski shot to the outside entering Turn 1. "Here they come; look at the 99 and ..." NASCAR on FOX analyst Darrell Waltrip began. " Brad Keselowski ," lead announcer Mike Joy and co-analyst Larry McReynolds chimed in. When the white flag appeared, Edwards and Keselowski had caught and were beginning to pull away from Newman and Earnhardt Jr. Racing back through the tri-oval, Keselowski turned his No. 09 Chevrolet to the outside, and then quickly dropped to the bottom as Edwards moved up to block. Realizing the bottom lane was now open, Edwards reacted quickly -- but not quickly enough. Contact sent the No. 99 Ford spinning. Edwards' car came off the track briefly and was beginning to settle back onto the track it was struck by Newman's Chevrolet. The impact sent Edwards roof-first into the frontstretch catch fence. Meanwhile, Keselowski kept his foot in the gas, racing across the finish line for the win just ahead of Earnhardt Jr. "I was not going to lose," Keselowski said in his post-race winner's interview. "I was not going to lift and (I was going to) hold my ground and consequences be damned." A full-time competitor at the time for JR Motorsports (which, coincidentally, counts Earnhardt Jr. and Hendrick among its ownership group) in what is now the NASCAR XFINITY Series, Keselowski said he didn't know what the future held after his first premier series win. "I know I don't have anything locked in," he said. "That's really all I can say ... I don't have a job secured for next year, and everything to this point has been wait-and-see. I know this certainly can't hurt." But behind the scenes, moves were already underway. Finch's Phoenix Racing , which purchased it engines from HMS, had put Keselowski in the car at the suggestion of Hendrick. And the JRM/Hendrick pipeline, which grooms talent in the lower series to help restock the Sprint Cup program, was taking root. Keselowski had made two starts for Hendrick the previous year, and would make seven all together in '09, in addition to five races with Finch. Perhaps his future wasn't as cloudy as it appeared. "Rick had come out and told me, actually had made it a point to say to the media that he thought I was a future driver at Hendrick," Keselowski told NASCAR.com recently. There was only one problem. SWAN SONG? On July 4, 2008, HMS officials announced that Martin had signed a two-year agreement to drive the organization's No. 5 Chevrolet. According to the news release, Martin, who would run a full schedule in 2009, would "run a partial Sprint Cup schedule ... in 2010, sharing the No. 5 Chevy with a to-be-determined second driver.” By most accounts, that driver was expected to be Keselowski. But in May of '09, less than three weeks after Martin's Phoenix victory, HMS officials announced a revision to the '08 agreement. The veteran driver would return in 2010 to once again run the entire season. With Keselowski waiting in the wings and Martin winning and agreeing to return the following year, "Rick was kind of half pregnant," Keselowski said. "He (was) stuck. "My feeling was, after I had won Talladega, I'm going to get this 5 car ride partially next year, pair it with something else, let's go. I didn't know what it was going to be. We'll figure it out; let's go." A phone call and subsequent meeting with Hendrick, however, changed all that. "I was kind of expecting more of a 'Hey, we're going to expedite the process of clearing out the rest of this,' " Keselowski said of the meeting, "And instead I got a 'Hey, I don't have a ride for you. You need to figure something else out. I'll try to help.' "That was late April, early May of that year. My intent ... was to give him that time to kind of make right on it somehow, find a ride because he had made me the promise that I would have that car. It didn't sit all that well, but I understood the circumstances and so forth." Months passed and Keselowski busied himself with his full-time XFINITY Series effort at JRM while making a handful of Sprint Cup starts for Hendrick and Finch. Hendrick, in the meantime, was exploring the various avenues that might keep Keselowski in the HMS camp. Possible scenarios included Stewart-Haas Racing , at the time a two-team effort, and Red Bull Racing . Consideration was even given to fielding a Sprint Cup entry out of the JR Motorsports shop, according to the owner. But the pieces didn't fit and as the summer wore on, Keselowski's future remained uncertain. "I wanted him to wait a year," Hendrick told NASCAR.com. "... I don't remember all the details, but I do remember that Mark had done so well, and I had tried to talk (Mark) into staying. "I've told all our guys, the first time I sat down with Brad he impressed me because he was so intense about the whole car and wanted to be involved in everything. He was just so committed. I told our guys he's got the right attitude about racing and driving. I just needed him to wait." Waiting, though, wasn't part of Keselowski's plan. "My perception is a driver is a lot like a perishable fruit," Keselowski said. "You've got so much time, then he spoils and goes bad. There are a lot of variables, much like anything." PENSKE COMES CALLING The Keselowski family has always been involved in racing . Brad's father Bob was an ARCA Series standout and a former winner in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Ron Keselowski, an uncle, scored two top-five finishes in 68 premier series starts while older brother Brian Keselowski has one or more starts in all three of NASCAR's national series. "We knew the Keselowski name from being here in Detroit," Walt Czarnecki, an executive vice president at Penske Corp., said. "His dad, his uncle, all that. They would run out at MIS ( Michigan International Speedway ) when (Penske) owned the track." But it was a business associate, lawyer/agent John Caponigro, who brought up the young driver's name during a conversation in 2009. "We thought he was committed to Hendrick," Czarnecki said. "He'd been on loan to James Finch to run several races. But some things were changing." Conversations with Keselowski ensued, in Michigan as well as Mooresville, North Carolina, where Team Penske is headquartered. "All this time," Czarnecki said, "Still having this somewhat uncertain situation with Mr. Hendrick." Team Penske had grown from a two-team to a three-team organization in '08, fielding cars for drivers Kurt Busch , Ryan Newman and Sam Hornish Jr . In '09 Newman departed to join owner/driver Tony Stewart at Stewart-Haas Racing and 32-year-old David Stremme was brought on board to fill the open seat. But the Keselowski opportunity was intriguing, according to Czarnecki. "We've tried to sign on what we consider to be the best available young drivers with a great deal of potential that we could mold and have them grow in our organization," he said. "And I think that Brad certainly fit that description. "But above and beyond that, he had a bigger vision as to what role he wanted to play in terms of the development of the team. ... Just how he saw different things coming together ... "Some of it may have been a little unrealistic; some of it was certainly the enthusiasm of a young man who had a goal in mind. ... But he had this great enthusiasm and he had this great desire and this great commitment. And that appealed to us." With the Hendrick effort seemingly stalled, Keselowski went back to Penske with a request -- to compete full-time in both the Sprint Cup and XFINITY Series. In addition to its Sprint Cup effort, Team Penske was fielding one full-time XFINITY Series team with driver Justin Allgaier . Expanding that program to two teams running all the races was problematic, given the economy at the time. Told such a scenario was unlikely, Keselowski was left to consider his few available options. But Penske officials continued to work until enough of the appropriate pieces were in place. "Sure enough, Roger called me one night and said 'Alright, I've got it put together,' " Keselowski said. "It kind of caught me off guard. I was sold. That's it; he made it happen." "I couldn't sit around and wait. ... Roger had gone above and beyond to put something together that I felt like was the opportunity I needed. ... The economy was on its way down fast; Roger (through his various businesses) had a lot of immunities to the economy. Rick made it very clear to me that he was not going to invest himself without having a sponsor, and the economy was not in a spot where he could facilitate that." Hendrick had been aware of the Penske interest from the beginning, having had conversations with his fellow team owner about Keselowski's status. "Roger called me and asked me could he talk to him," Hendrick said. "I didn't want to stand in his way. Brad's a hell of a talent. It was a timing issue. "It's worked out for him. At his age it would have been nice if we could have kept him. ... If I got a call from Roger and I was in his spot I would have done exactly what he did." POSTSCRIPT On Sept. 1, 2009, Team Penske officials announced that the organization had signed Keselowski to compete full-time in both the Sprint Cup and XFINITY Series beginning the following season. Since then, Keselowski has won 17 Sprint Cup races, 28 XFINITY Series races and championships in both series. "I don't want to sound mercenary but he brought us our first Sprint Cup championship (in 2012)," Czarnecki said. "Because that vision that he outlined, we tried to work with him and bring people along, bring people into the organization, have him work with people like (crew chief) Paul Wolfe, it was really the realization of that vision. That's what it (has) meant. "And his intensity hasn't changed." Former teammates Busch and Hornish have departed, and fellow driver AJ Allmendinger has come and gone. Keselowski, now 32, is the veteran of a Penske group that now includes 25-year-old teammate Joey Logano . "I wasn’t looking to switch," Keselowski said. "If things would have gone the way they were supposed to go before Mark won that race at Phoenix, I would still be there."
A tutu for Tony: See 'Smoke' as the Tooth Fairy
TALLADEGA, Ala. -- While Tony Stewart may be hanging up the fire suit at the end of the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, he's got a new addition to his wardrobe -- a pink tutu. During a joint Friday press conference at Talladega Superspeedway , Stewart-Haas Racing driver Danica Patrick invited her teammate and team co-owner Stewart to join the "Tooth Fairy Squad," a tie-in with her sponsor, Aspen Dental. The three-time Sprint Cup Series champion begrudgingly accepted. And then the outfit came out. . @TonyStewart accepts @DanicaPatrick 's invitation to join @AspenDental 's "Turbocharged Tooth Fairy Squad." #NASCAR pic.twitter.com/YmxLNSSiNe — Stewart-Haas Racing (@StewartHaasRcng) April 29, 2016 A pink tutu, a sprightly wand and a grizzled, bearded veteran rocking them like the champ that he is. Of course, this isn't the first time we've seen Stewart wearing questionable-at-best attire. RELATED: Stewart debuts new 'drag' package
Aspen Dental to sponsor annual dirt track race at Eldora
Eldora Speedway announced Friday that Aspen Dental will sponsor the Ohio dirt track's annual race for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. The fourth annual 150-lap race, the only NASCAR national series event on a dirt speedway, is scheduled July 20 (9 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). The track discontinued the Mudsummer Classic name in the offseason because of a conflict with Major League Baseball's "Midsummer Classic" name for its annual All-Star Game. NASCAR returned to dirt-track racing with the inaugural truck event at Eldora in 2013, marking the first national series race on dirt since 1970. Friday's announcement coincided with a media event at Talladega Superspeedway featuring Danica Patrick -- who drives the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 10 Chevrolet with Aspen Dental sponsorship -- and Tony Stewart , who purchased the Eldora track in 2004. Aspen Dental is in the midst of a five-year partnership with Stewart-Haas Racing . The East Syracuse, New York-based business increased its backing of Patrick's efforts this season, doubling its role as primary sponsor to four NASCAR Sprint Cup races in 2016.
Logano leads final practice, No. 14 team practices switch
Practice 2: Full results Joey Logano launched to the fastest speed in final NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice Friday afternoon at Talladega Superspeedway . Logano, winner of the series' most recent race here last October, posted a best lap of 196.290 mph in the Team Penske No. 22 Ford. He was just .013 seconds ahead of Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate Ryan Blaney , second-fastest at 196.238 mph in the Wood Brothers Racing No. 21 Ford. Fellow rookie Chase Elliott was third-fastest at 196.185 mph in the Hendrick Motorsports No. 24 Chevrolet. Danica Patrick (195.094 mph) and rookie Brian Scott completed the top five in the final 55-minute prep for Sunday's GEICO 500 (1 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Few drivers participated in large packs, with most spending time concentrating on single-car runs to prepare for Saturday's Coors Light Pole Qualifying (12:30 p.m. ET, FOX). But with inclement weather in Saturday's forecast, several drivers attempted to better their position in the practice order should qualifying be washed out. Among those was Blaney, one of five drivers attempting to qualify for the four starting berths reserved for open, non-chartered teams. He received aerodynamic help from Logano, whose Penske team shares an alliance with the Wood Brothers, a fellow Ford operation. Ty Dillon , on standby for Tony Stewart in his second race back from a back injury, was 16th-fastest in the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 14 Chevrolet. The team spent the majority of the session practicing in the garage for a quick driver change, something the team plans to do midstream in Sunday's 500-miler as Stewart eases his way back from his injuries. Defending race winner Dale Earnhardt Jr . was seventh-fastest at 193.584 mph around the 2.66-mile track. Practice 1: Full results Two-time Talladega Superspeedway winner Jamie McMurray topped opening practice. The wheelman of the No. 1 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Chevrolet posted a fastest lap of 199.737 mph. Rookie Chase Elliott was second-fastest during the 55-minute session, propelling the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet around the 2.66-mile track at 199.729 mph. Stewart-Haas Racing 's Kurt Busch rounded out the top three with his No. 41 coming in at 199.409 mph. Busch's teammate Danica Patrick was next in her No. 10 Chevrolet (199.384 mph) while the No. 6 of Trevor Bayne earned the fifth-quickest lap (199.317 mph). The back-to-back race winner of 2016, Carl Edwards was 23rd (196.552 mph) in his No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. Tony Stewart and Ty Dillon took turns wheeling the No. 14 throughout practice and earned 29th (195.884 mph). Dillon will fill in as a relief driver for "Smoke" during qualifying and the 500-mile event. Six-time Talladega winner, and defending race champ, Dale Earnhardt Jr . finished practice 32nd (195.150 mph).
Ty Dillon ready to relieve Tony Stewart at Talladega
MORE: How qualifying works at 'Dega TALLADEGA, Ala. -- Double duty continues this weekend for Ty Dillon as the Richard Childress Racing driver competes in Saturday's XFINITY Series race and is expected to take over the No. 14 of Tony Stewart at some point in Sunday's Sprint Cup Series event. There's still a bit of newness to the 2016 season but Dillon, 24, has already made 13 starts between the two series. In addition to his full-time role with RCR, he's made three starts in place of Stewart as well as two for Circle Sport- Leavine Family Racing . "I was hoping to maybe be full-time this year in the Sprint Cup Series about this time last year," Dillon said Friday morning at Talladega Superspeedway , site of Sunday's GEICO 500 (1 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). "That is where I kind of had my goals set, my eyes set, but the opportunity didn't come along. "I can't thank Stewart-Haas ( Racing ) … enough for giving me the opportunity to fill in this year with Tony being out. Not only has it helped me with my career and getting better as a race car driver, but it's helped me show people that I can get the job done in other equipment too." Stewart, a three-time premier series champion, missed the first eight races after suffering a back injury in the offseason. He made his first start last weekend at Richmond International Raceway . RELATED: Stewart: Full coverage of injury, comeback Dillon split time with fellow driver Brian Vickers in the car during Stewart's absence. With the potential for multi-car accidents much higher at Talladega, Stewart and Stewart-Haas Racing officials made the call to have Stewart start this week's race and then turn the ride over to Dillon. Dillon is also scheduled to qualify the car on Saturday. Because of his extensive time in the car, the interior will be fitted to address his needs. RELATED: Ty to qualify for Tony at Talladega "I haven’t talked to Tony yet, but I talked with Mike (Bugarewicz, crew chief) and the guys," Dillon said of the interior work. "They said it's just a quarter-inch difference and the belt set is all that we are playing with. So, we've got adjustable belts to make up for that really quickly. "We have had to make a couple of changes to kind of compensate for a little bit of both, but mostly everything in there is built for me and for my comfort, because I will be in it for the longer part of the race." By starting the race, Stewart will be awarded the points earned as a result of Dillon's finishing position. In addition, NASCAR officials said that should Dillon win Sunday's race, it would be counted as a win toward Stewart's Chase eligibility. Stewart would also have to be among the top 30 in points. He currently trails Matt DiBenedetto , in 30th, by 101 points. RELATED: How Stewart will be scored at 'Dega "First of all it would mean I won a Sprint Cup race and I would be pretty excited," Dillon said. "On top of that, to be able to get Tony a step closer to being locked into the Chase would be really cool. … "I haven't started a race without the goal of winning my entire career. That is what my focus is. As soon as I get strapped into that race car I'm planning on going to the front and hopefully winning the race. If it all comes together and we do win the race, I'm sure it will be a heck of a party and everybody is going to be happy." Stewart, who will retire from Sprint Cup competition at season's end, said he was appreciative of the opportunity to contend for a spot in the 10-race Chase, but said he "wouldn’t feel good about" earning a berth based on a win by another driver. "I think for me to make the Chase it needs to be because I ran the whole race and won the race, not started it and somebody else won it for me."
Stewart preps for relief driver switch at Talladega
RELATED: Weekend schedule " Dillon ready for action TALLADEGA, Ala. -- A week after returning to NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition, Tony Stewart becomes a start-and-park driver. In a manner of speaking. Start-and-watch might be more appropriate. The three-time premier series champion missed the season's first eight points races after suffering a back injury during the offseason. RELATED: Full timeline of Stewart's injury, comeback Stewart is scheduled to start his No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet in Sunday's GEICO 500 (1 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) at Talladega Superspeedway before turning over the wheel to XFINITY Series driver Ty Dillon . It's an infrequent turn of events, but something that does happen from time to time in NASCAR. Last season, Erik Jones stepped in for Denny Hamlin at Bristol Motor Speedway after the Joe Gibbs Racing driver developed a neck spasm during a rain delay. Jones finished 26th. Hamlin was also involved in a driver swap at Talladega in 2013. Injured in an accident at Auto Club Speedway , Hamlin started the Aaron's 499 but eventually gave up the seat to Brian Vickers . J.J. Yeley replaced Bill Elliott during a race here in 2011; he also replaced Stewart in '08 during the summer race at Daytona. Stewart, speaking to the media Friday at Talladega, said he expects to do "what I always do around here at the beginning of the race … just ride around in the back until we get to the first caution." It won't be "glamorous," he said, but it meets his doctors' request. Well, almost. According to Stewart, his doctors didn't want him competing at all this weekend. "We need the points and so we talked them into letting us to at least start the race," said Stewart, who sits 101 points out of 30th. MORE: Standings pre-Talladega "I told them it normally doesn't go more than two or three laps at the beginning of the race before a caution. It might go 82 or 83 laps, who knows? But, we'll run until it gets there." Unofficially, the last time a relief driver won a NASCAR premier series race was 1977, and it occurred at Talladega as well. Donnie Allison started what was then a July race but eventually turned the driving over to Darrell Waltrip due to illness. Waltrip replaced Allison with 23 laps remaining and took the lead with six to go when race leader Skip Manning's car suffered mechanical problems. According to NASCAR rules, points earned by an entry are awarded to the driver starting the race, meaning Stewart will be credited with those earned Sunday by Dillon.
Stewart-Haas , Joe Gibbs Racing secure fourth Charters
RELATED: Who has the 36 Charters? " Fast facts about charters DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Stewart-Haas Racing and Joe Gibbs Racing have each obtained an additional Charter for their respective teams, a move that will guarantee NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers Kurt Busch (SHR) and Carl Edwards (JGR) a starting spot in all 36 points races each week. Officials with both teams made the announcements separately via social media (Twitter) Saturday afternoon. Securing the Charters was expected. Michael Waltrip Racing co-owner Rob Kauffman said earlier this week that Charters awarded to his organization, which ceased operations at the conclusion of the 2015 season, would likely be purchased by the Stewart-Haas and Joe Gibbs organizations. No purchase price was announced. NASCAR unveiled the new system Feb. 9, announcing a nine-year arrangement that not only will assure Charter teams a starting spot in the field but there will also be financial benefits generated by the move. Based on criteria developed by NASCAR and with input from the industry, Charters were awarded to 36 teams, each of which had attempted to qualify for all races since the start of the 2013 season. It was also announced that beginning this season Sprint Cup Series fields would feature 40 cars rather than 43 as had previously been the case. As a result, there will be four remaining positions in the field each week to be filled by Open (non-Charter) teams. Those will be determined as they have been in previous years, based on qualifying speeds. SHR was awarded three Charters for its Nos. 4, 10 and 14 teams; the No. 41 team did not debut until 2014. Likewise JGR was awarded three Charters for its Nos. 11, 18 and 20 teams, and sought a fourth for the No. 19, which debuted with Edwards last season. Charters may be sold or leased (a one-time transfer), with NASCAR approval, and HScott Motorsports owner Harry Scott opted for the latter in order to obtain a Charter for his No. 46 team with driver Michael Annett . Scott announced Friday that he had reached an agreement with Premium Motorsports owner Jay Robinson for use of that team's Charter for the 2016 season. HScott, a two-team organization, was awarded one Charter, assigned to the No. 15 team of Clint Bowyer , meaning Annett would have to qualify for all races this season. Premium Motorsports will continue to field a Sprint Cup entry. Cole Whitt will attempt to qualify the team's No. 98 Toyota in the field for next week’s season-opening Daytona 500