Ty Dillon to qualify for Tony Stewart at Talladega
Ty Dillon said Wednesday that he plans to qualify Stewart-Haas Racing 's No. 14 Chevrolet as part of his relief efforts for owner/driver Tony Stewart this weekend at Talladega Superspeedway . Dillon told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that he's discussed a preliminary game plan with No. 14 crew chief Mike Bugarewicz to split time in the cockpit with Stewart, who made his season debut last Sunday at Richmond after missing the first eight NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races of 2016 with a broken back.
Pretty in pink: A tutu for Tony
Danica Patrick presents Tony Stewart with a tutu and wand in honor of joining Aspen Dental's "tooth fairy squad" for Aspen Dental Weekend at Talladega Superspeedway.
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."
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
Dillon: Getting Tony a step closer 'would be really cool'
Ty Dillon, who will swap with Tony Stewart at Talladega, talks about the possibility of winning the GEICO 500, which would help qualify Stewart for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
Tony to Ty at Talladega! Dillon discusses swap
Ty Dillon joins SiriusXM NASCAR Radio to talk about what will happen this weekend at Talladega as he and Tony Stewart prepare to swap drivers of the No. 14 car during the race.
As executive producer, Dale Jr. excited about new series
MOORESVILLE, N.C. -- When Dale Earnhardt Jr . previewed the first installment of the upcoming three-part series "NASCAR: The Rise of American Speed," the Hendrick Motorsports driver said he was amazed at what he witnessed. "The first part I watched like a kid at Christmas," the Hendrick Motorsports driver said Tuesday, adding that he kept thinking, "This is cool; I love what I'm seeing. I didn't know it was like this; this is awesome." Earnhardt is an executive producer for the series, which debuts this Sunday at 9 p.m. ET on CMT. "You know about Red Byron (NASCAR's first premier series champion) and guys like that and what they've done but you've never actually had a window into what they might have been like," he said. "So that was really, really neat. "Watching that first episode, it's completely different from watching the other two. The other two I was there, or I remember it as a kid. You immediately go to sort of picking it apart and (asking) does it live up to the standard?" The series (episodes 2 and 3 will air on consecutive Sundays, May 15 and May 22) uses archival footage as well as reenactments and interviews to document the history of NASCAR from its beginning to modern day. Among those contributing on-air to the project were stars such as Jeff Gordon , Kevin Harvick , Tony Stewart and Darrell Waltrip. NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France and Lesa France Kennedy, Chief Executive Officer of International Speedway Corp., provide additional insights. NASCAR founder William Henry Getty France was their grandfather, Bill France Jr. their father. Episode 1 details stock car racing's rough, raw beginnings and the senior France's desire to pursue his dream of bringing acceptability and professionalism to the sport. Episode 2 features the continued rise of the sport and France's many battles to bring NASCAR to mainstream America. Episode 3 begins with the '79 Daytona 500 , a watershed moment for NASCAR, and focuses heavily on the career of France's son, Bill Jr., and seven-time series champion Dale Earnhardt before closing with where NASCAR sits in today's sports landscape. But it was that first episode that Earnhardt Jr. said, "Intrigues me the most. "Because I wasn't there and didn't know much about that time," he said. "You know people's names and you match that name with an accomplishment. But you never really knew their personalities much. "I believe in this kind of film you're able to see maybe what this guy's attitude or personality was like. You see when Big Bill is trying to form NASCAR, some of the drivers are kind of grinding against the gears and pushing back a little bit. "We really don't know a lot about that and there aren't a lot of stories telling that part of it, that side of it. So that was real interesting."
France: Collaboration with drivers, council 'better than ever'
NASCAR Chairman & CEO Brian France has gone from Talladega, Alabama, to Los Angeles over the past several days, taking in and sending out a wide view of the sport in the process. France kicked off a Drivers Council meeting at Talladega on Friday, then served on a prestigious speaking panel for sports business leaders in L.A. on Monday The initial stop was well-received by both the drivers and France himself -- the NASCAR Chairman & CEO kicked off the meeting with remarks, and listened to driver discussion on a variety of topics. France also met privately for a one-on-one discussion with driver Tony Stewart , a three-time premier series champion. "The Drivers Council meeting in Talladega was very productive," France told NASCAR.com. " Tony and I also met one-on-one, and it was great to hear his thoughts. I think the key is to build trust with the drivers, and we structured the Council in a way that lets them express their views in a free-flowing manner. "We want them to know that we are listening, trying to understand their issues and that it is important for us to get it right. I think the level of collaboration between us is better than ever." The drivers agree. "It was great Brian came (to the meeting)," Dale Earnhardt Jr . told reporters at Talladega. " … It was just a good, positive meeting, a lot of good things moving in a good direction. ... I think what we are doing is pretty amazing." Stewart, Earnhardt Jr., Kevin Harvick , Joey Logano , Denny Hamlin and Kyle Larson were all on the Drivers Council when it was formed last year, and remain members in 2016. Jimmie Johnson , Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch are three new members this year, bringing the total council to nine drivers. The sanctioning body strategically shaped criteria for the Drivers Council so a variety of drivers are included. Four spots are automatically filled by performance the previous season -- the top-finishing driver for Chevrolet, Toyota and Ford, plus the top-finishing driver with less than three seasons of experience. The remaining slots are filled by driver votes from the following categories: Two drivers from the top 10 in points from the previous season; one driver from positions 11-20 in points from the previous season; one driver from positions 21-30 in points the previous season; and one driver with the most votes who doesn't fit into the previous categories. A team can have a maximum of two drivers on the Drivers Council. "The meeting on Friday was terrific," NASCAR Executive Vice President and Racing Development Officer Steve O'Donnell reiterated on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. "It was scheduled for an hour and a half and almost went three hours. Brian was there and talked about where we see the sport going, answering a number of questions that the drivers had, and then we had some great exchanges about what we think of the current rules package, some things we may look at in the future. All in all, my perspective, … but I really believe in the process and think it's paying huge benefits for the sport and ultimately the race fans." The Drivers Council is the latest group to be formed within the industry, joining the NASCAR OEM Council, Tracks Council and the Teams Council. The intent of council creation is for better collaboration across the sport, with the manufacturers and teams -- and now, the drivers -- having an avenue for discussion and a process to elevate those discussions to industry leadership. At the Milken Conference days later, France was on a five-person panel for a session called "Stewards of the Game: The Business Leaders Behind Major Sports" that also included former NBA Commissioner David Stern and New England Patriots team owner Robert Kraft. The NASCAR Chairman & CEO answered broad-ranging questions on his family legacy, the successful Daytona Rising project and the importance of digital and social media to reach and engage new fans.
Bowyer: Racing is 'about what you're going to do tomorrow'
KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Those heat-of-the-moment tirades that fans are able to hear during the course of a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race might be entertaining, but they don't always tell the whole story, according to HScott Motorsports driver Clint Bowyer . "Whether I'm frustrated or happy or whatever … whether it's a (celebration) or a pissed off moment that happens, the wick's pretty short," Bowyer said Thursday at Kansas Speedway , site of Saturday's GoBowling 400 (7:30 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). "It burns out in about five minutes. The next thing out of my mouth is 'Alright, now what are we going to do to fix it?' " Bowyer, 36, is in a transition year, spending the 2016 season as driver of the No. 15 Chevrolet for HSM. He'll move over to Stewart-Haas Racing in '17, inheriting the No. 14 ride currently occupied by co-owner/driver Tony Stewart . An early-season start that saw the driver finish inside the top 20 only once in seven races frustrated the eight-time winner, and that frustration often could be heard as he vented to his team on the radio during races. But it's what takes place after the pot has boiled over, he said, that determines what occurs next. "I don't ever care about yesterday or what happened in a practice or a race," he said. "… This sport is all about what you're going to do tomorrow. That's what you have to instill into yourself and everybody around you to be able to go out there and get the job done, compete at the level I know we're capable of competing at for our sponsors and for ourselves." Bowyer hasn't been to victory lane in a Sprint Cup race since the 2012 season, a span of 123 races. He did qualify for last year's Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup based on points earned, but was eliminated in the first round. HScott fields two Sprint Cup teams -- the No. 15 of Bowyer as well as the No. 46 for driver Michael Annett . Bowyer enters this weekend's race 27th in points while Annett is 35th. But two of the last three races have seen Bowyer finish inside the top 10 -- he was eighth at Bristol and seventh most recently at Talladega. "I was struggling to get that kind of consistency where I was last year," he said of his final season at the now-defunct Michael Waltrip Racing. "When you're down, most of the time there's a reason, especially when you're down as far as we' re down. We had work to do; we're starting to get some new waves of cars built, get some things to where we are satisfied with them and excited about bringing them to the track and seeing what our hard work has done. That's all you can do." Anyone should be frustrated, he said, if they felt their performance as a driver or their team's performance wasn't up to par. That doesn't mean a team no longer attempts to improve. "When you're running good, it's easy," Bowyer said. "When you're running bad, it's the hardest thing you've ever done in your life. I don't care what organization you're at or how much depth you have or anything else. It's that simple. … "This is hard. This is a hard business and it's very competitive. If you're good, you better work hard to stay good or you're not going to be there long. If you're bad, you've got to work hard to get caught up."
NASCAR.com's Costner Merrifield looks back at a wreck-filled Talladega race that included Tony Stewart and Ty Dillon swapping seats and Junior's steering wheel coming off.