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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.
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.
Drivers Council to pay Tony Stewart fine
Members of the Drivers Council, a group of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers that meets occasionally with NASCAR leadership, will pool money to pay the $35,000 fine NASCAR levied against Tony Stewart , Denny Hamlin confirmed Friday at Richmond International Raceway . NBC Sports first reported the story . Via the NBC report, Denny Hamlin , a member of the Drivers Council, released this statement: "We as drivers believe Tony has the right to speak his opinion on topics that pertain to a sport that he has spent nearly two decades helping build as both a driver and an owner. While we do not condone drivers lashing out freely at NASCAR, we do feel Tony was in his rights to state his opinion. We as a Council support him and do not agree with the fine. Therefore, we fellow council members have agreed to contribute equally to paying his fine." He reiterated that stance Friday afternoon. "It's about us believing we have the right to express our opinions," Hamlin said. Hamlin and Stewart are both in the Drivers Council. Other members are Kyle Busch , Dale Earnhardt Jr ., Kevin Harvick , Jimmie Johnson , Brad Keselowski , Kyle Larson and Joey Logano . Jeff Gordon had previously been a member until his retirement following the 2015 season. Stewart's fine, announced Thursday afternoon, falls under Section 12 of the rule book, specifically member conduct guidelines. According to Section 12.8.1, actions that could result in a $10,000-$50,000 fine include disparaging the sport and/or NASCAR's leadership. Previously on Thursday, Stewart announced he would return to his No. 14 Chevrolet this weekend at Richmond International Raceway after missing the first eight races of the year with a back injury. PHOTOS: All 48 of Tony's wins " Stewart through the years
Tony Stewart cuts tire in first Sprint Cup race of 2016
MORE: Full race results " Top moments for Stewart " Recap all his wins Tony Stewart had a tire go down in his first race back behind the wheel of his No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet in Sunday's Toyota Owners 400 Sprint Cup Series race at Richmond International Raceway . On Lap 268 of 400, Stewart and Team Penske driver Joey Logano made contact, cutting the left-rear tire of the No. 14 to bring out the caution. The three-time premier series champion was running 21st and one lap down at the time of the incident. Logano got the free pass as a result of the caution. Earlier in the race, Stewart was battling hard with then-race leader and eventual race winner Carl Edwards to stay on the lead lap. "We got the lap down there," Stewart said after the race. "I got a lap down and almost drove back by and got my lap back. But Carl (Edwards) was strong. I knew I wasn't going to be able to hang on long, but I was going to hold on as long as I could and hope we got a caution." Stewart would get back on the lead lap thanks to earning the free pass on the Lap 325 caution. "Smoke" would go on to finish in 19th place. Of his day back behind the wheel Stewart said, "It was fun. I had a good time and I'm looking forward to running the rest of this year with these guys." RELATED: Whose restart did 'Smoke' describe as 'sexy'?
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.
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.
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)," 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, Dale 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.
Ty Dillon subs for Stewart, salvages sixth at Talladega
RELATED: Talladega results Ty Dillon subbed in for three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Tony Stewart on Sunday, taking over the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 14 Chevrolet and driving it to a sixth-place finish at Talladega Superspeedway . The team made the driver switch in the 52nd of a scheduled 188 laps in Sunday's GEICO 500 . The swap went according to plan, with Dillon intending to fill in during the first caution period as Stewart eases back to full-time competition after suffering a broken back in an offseason all-terrain vehicle accident. From there, Dillon managed to avoid the four multicar crashes that followed, including one that punctuated the event at the checkered flag. The result earned Stewart 35 valuable championship points as he tries to position himself for a berth in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs. "All in all I'm so glad I got a good finish for Tony ," Dillon said post-race. "I know this team is so strong they're going to win a race and get in the top 30. Just glad I got to be a part of what they're going to do this year." RELATED: Ty and Tony make the switch, frame-by-frame After a pit-road speeding penalty during the first round of green-flag pit stops, Stewart was running a lap down at the time of the first caution period, triggered by a three-car crash involving Dale Earnhardt Jr ., Kasey Kahne and Matt DiBenedetto . Stewart was the beneficiary of the yellow flag, putting him back on the lead lap. After regaining his lost lap, Stewart pitted separately of the main pack and Dillon resumed near the tail end of the field in 33rd place. "I think it went well; it might have been a little bit slower … but we were being patient, methodical," Dillon said of the driver swap, a change-over the team rehearsed during Friday practice. "I had my belts tight and everything was really smooth. We just made sure everything was perfect. We knew we had ample amount of time and it went well." Stewart told FOX Sports' Jamie Little after exiting the car that "it sucks" to turn over the wheel, but that he understood the reasoning. He plans to return full-time next weekend at Kansas Speedway . "If I wouldn't have broken my back in the end of January, we wouldn't have been in this situation," Stewart said. "The good news is it's the last time I've got to do it and then I'm back in the next week. Really appreciate Ty. I mean, he's been a rock star through this whole thing and especially this weekend. He's done all the heavy lifting and I just go riding around for 50 laps and turn it over to him." WATCH: Stewart talks about getting out of the car Multiple chaotic wrecks ensued in the laps that followed the driver change, further justifying Stewart's decision. Dillon, a NASCAR XFINITY Series regular with 12 Sprint Cup starts, managed to keep the SHR entry free of major involvement the rest of the way. "I don't know how I missed them, really," Dillon said. "(Spotter) Bob Jeffrey on top of the roof did a great job navigating me through. Just missed them by a narrow margin but we missed them. That was all that mattered." Dillon drove the No. 14 in Saturday's Coors Light Pole Qualifying to the 14th starting spot. Stewart started Sunday's 500-miler, dropping to the rear of the 40-car field before the green flag because of the driver change. "Guys, I know this isn't the optimal situation, but we have a kid who's done a great job for us," Stewart told his team over the radio during pace laps. "He'll do another great job today." As the driver of record at the initial start, Stewart was credited with the finish and points. The two-driver effort moved Stewart up two spots to 38th in the Sprint Cup driver standings, 71 points behind 30th-place DiBenedetto. Under the terms of the medical eligibility waiver granted by NASCAR upon his return, Stewart must win a race and finish among the top 30 in driver standings to qualify for a Chase berth. Dillon made three starts for SHR this season in place of Stewart, dividing driving duties with Brian Vickers in the eight races Stewart was sidelined. Contributing: Kenny Bruce