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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
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.
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.
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.
Tony Stewart will return to track at Richmond
RELATED: Full Stewart coverage Three-time NASCAR premier series champion Tony Stewart will return to competition this weekend at Richmond International Raceway , ending a season-opening run that saw the 44-year-old sidelined due to a back injury sustained in late January. Stewart made the announcement Thursday via his Twitter account. 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 The Dr's said my scans "looked much better than they thought they would after 3 months". So they cleared me #SmokeWillRise — Tony Stewart (@TonyStewart) April 21, 2016 Thanks for everyone’s support & well wishes. @Mobil1 @BassProShops @RushTruckCenter @Code3Associates @CocaColaRacing @TeamChevy — Tony Stewart (@TonyStewart) April 21, 2016 Later Thursday, NASCAR announced that Stewart had been granted a waiver for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup , and is eligible to qualify for the postseason. The surest way to do that is win a race, and get into the top 30 in points. "NASCAR received the appropriate medical clearance documentation allowing Tony Stewart to resume normal racing activities," NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O'Donnell said. "We also have granted the request from Stewart-Haas Racing for a waiver for Tony to be eligible to qualify for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . As he begins his final season, we wish Tony the best of luck." The Indiana native is co-owner of Stewart-Haas Racing , a four-team NASCAR Sprint Cup Series organization that also fields entries for 2014 series champion Kevin Harvick , 2003 champ Kurt Busch and Danica Patrick . Brian Vickers and Ty Dillon have filled in as driver of Stewart's No. 14 Chevrolet this season during his absence. Vickers was initially scheduled to be in the car this weekend as the series heads to Richmond for Sunday's Toyota Owners 400 (1 p.m., FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). MORE: Drivers react to Stewart's return to racing Stewart will also represent SHR at a Goodyear tire test April 26-27 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway , and will practice and qualify his car next weekend at Talladega. He will start that race, but then yield the car to Dillon. "We're taking a strategic approach to my return," Stewart said in a team release. "Richmond is a track where I feel very comfortable and because it's a short track, the speeds are substantially less. The Goodyear test in Indy is sort of a controlled environment, allowing me to get more acclimated with my car at higher speeds. We'll start the Talladega race to get the points, but understanding the style of racing and the higher potential of getting involved in an incident, we thought it was best to minimize the amount of time I'm in the car. I'll return full time at Kansas and enjoy every moment I can in my final year of Sprint Cup . "I appreciate everyone's patience and all the support they've given me the last couple of months, but the best medicine will come this weekend at Richmond when I finally get to go racing." Team officials announced Feb. 2 that Stewart had sustained a back injury in a non-racing accident on Jan. 31 while driving an off-road vehicle. He was transported to a local hospital on the west coast, diagnosed with a burst fracture of the L1 vertebra and eventually transported to a Charlotte, N.C.-area hospital. According to Stewart, doctors inserted two rods and three screws to stabilize the injured area of his back. He was eventually cleared to return to the race track, but not as a competitor, where he has helped oversee the operations of the SHR organization. Stewart announced Sept. 30, 2015 that the 2016 season would be his last as a driver in NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series and that Clint Bowyer would take over his role behind the wheel of the No. 14 entry beginning in 2017. Stewart currently has 48 career victories. He won two championships with Joe Gibbs Racing (in 2002 and ’05) and edged Carl Edwards for the 2011 title while at SHR. MORE: Photos of Tony through the years
NASCAR: Tony Stewart granted Chase waiver
RELATED: Full Stewart coverage Tony Stewart , who will return to the track this weekend at Richmond International Raceway after missing the first eight races of the season, has been granted a waiver making him eligible to qualify for the 2016 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup , according to NASCAR. "NASCAR received the appropriate medical clearance documentation allowing Tony Stewart to resume normal racing activities," NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O'Donnell. "We also have granted the request from Stewart-Haas Racing for a waiver for Tony to be eligible to qualify for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . As he begins his final season, we wish Tony the best of luck." Because he did not attempt to qualify for every race, Stewart would not have been eligible for the 2016 postseason without the waiver. The Stewart-Haas Racing driver and co-owner is now in the same position as Kyle Busch in 2015. The clearest path to the postseason, as Busch proved last year, is for Stewart to win one race before the regular season ends at Richmond in the fall, and climb into the top 30 in the points standings. "Smoke" injured his back in an all-terrain vehicle accident in late January, and has been sidelined since. He's been prevalent at the track, though, as drivers Ty Dillon and Brian Vickers have filled his seat.
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'?