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UPDATE: Stewart out for rest of 2013, Martin, Dillon to take over No. 14

Aug 19, 2013, 3:05 PM EDT

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UPDATE: 3:00 p.m. EST:  Tony Stewart will be sidelined for the rest of the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season and Mark Martin will take over the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet for 12 of the remaining 13 races. Austin Dillon, who filled in at Michigan this weekend, will race at Talladega on Oct. 20.

The team can still make the 12-team Chase for the Sprint Cup on entrant points; the No. 14 is currently 10 points behind 10th place.

A teleconference with Greg Zipadelli, Stewart-Haas Racing competition director, Martin and Michael Waltrip, Martin’s current team principal at Michael Waltrip Racing, is scheduled for 4 p.m. EST.

12:00 a.m. EST: Multiple outlets are now reporting confirmation from sources that Mark Martin will become the next interim driver for the injured Tony Stewart in the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet.

According to Jim Utter and David Scott of The Charlotte Observer, Martin will take over Stewart’s ride for the remainder of the Sprint Cup season if necessary, except for the Oct. 20 Chase race at Talladega Superspeedway. An announcement is expected to occur on Monday after the deal is finalized.

Martin was expected to run several more events this year with the No. 55 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota that he shares with Waltrip and Brian Vickers. But, per Utter and Scott’s report, Vickers – who was recently named the full-time driver of the No. 55 starting next season – will likely take over those races as Martin heads to SHR.

Stewart, the three-time Cup champion, is out indefinitely after breaking two bones in his right leg in a sprint car crash earlier this month at Oskaloosa, Iowa. He was released from the hospital last weekend.

On Sunday at Michigan, Austin Dillon became the second driver to fill in for Stewart since his injury and finished 14th. Max Papis was in the No. 14 one week ago at Watkins Glen and took the checkers in 15th place there.

It bears noting that SHR competition director Greg Zipadelli said on Friday at MIS that Dillon was likely to have “one more race at least” with the team in 2013. Taking that into consideration, Dillon may well be an option for the No. 14 at Talladega in October.

If Martin is to take over Stewart’s car, it wouldn’t be the first time he has served in a relief role this year. He drove for the injured Denny Hamlin at Martinsville in April, finishing 10th in Hamlin’s No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.

Martin had actually been announced as the sole replacement driver for Hamlin at the time, but that deal crumbled and he ultimately only filled in at Martinsville. Vickers took over Hamlin’s No. 11 starting at the next race in Texas and drove it until Hamlin returned to competition.

  1. florida727 - Aug 19, 2013 at 8:23 AM

    I said it when it happened. When Stewart broke his leg by stupidly driving in a meaningless sprint car race in Iowa, his season would be over… and his sponsors should be pissed off. If I were one of them, I’d demand compensation back from SHR. In virtually every professional sport, athletes have a clause in their contract forbidding reckless endangerment. They can’t skydive for example. What Stewart did was let down his sponsors. Calling it idiotic is being kind. Sponsors don’t pay millions to watch someone else drive his car. They pay to watch HIM drive HIS car.

    • willnonya - Aug 19, 2013 at 8:42 AM

      florida727, I agree that his sponsors should be upset but your logic is pretty circular. Stating that a race car driver driving a race car(in any series) is reckless endangerment is a bit of a stretch. Especially when his primary sponsors also sponsor most of his dirt track cars.

      If his sponsors don’t like it then expect to see some new colors on the No. 14 next year. If they stick around then they either have no problem with it or they’re still coming out ahead in the arrangement.

    • ditto65 - Aug 19, 2013 at 9:26 AM

      He was not stupidly driving – he was racing, which, if you check his w2, is his occupation.

      And it wasn’t meaningless. It is, again, what he does.

      Keep drinking the NASCAR Kool-Aid and believe that racing those glorified taxi-cabs is the only racing that matters.

    • ditto65 - Aug 19, 2013 at 9:28 AM

      And if the sponsors cared, their would be a clause forbidding his racing.

    • macoan - Aug 19, 2013 at 10:06 AM

      Yes and No. In reality, this can be seen as both good for Stewart and his sponsors (depending on how you look at it.)

      For his sponsors, as Papis & Dillion were in the car, there were a lot more TV coverage of them – leading to more exposure for the sponsor. It’s not what the sponser was expecting, but so far it’s been more coverage then they would normally get.

      As for Stewart – he is co-owner of 3 cars, and it was very likely that the top car out of the three would have been Newman… which they are letting go at the end of the season. Danica of course has the big sponsorship money – but Stewart would have then been left with the question of why he didn’t step down to keep the top driver in one of the cars…. but now that he is out for the rest of the season, it does give him an “excuse” on why he was firing the top driver on their teams.

  2. prov1x - Aug 19, 2013 at 10:11 AM

    Pretty sure that all sponsors know up front that Tony’s hobby is racing sprint cars, not playing golf. They may be pissed, but its not because they weren’t aware this scenario didn’t exist. S&@t happens.

  3. rayburns - Aug 19, 2013 at 10:45 AM

    Back in the old days, NBA players used to play in pickup basketball games whenever they could. The Rucker League in New York used to have NBA All-Stars playing on asphalt courts with chains for nets on a regular basis. Legends were born (and died) on those dingy courts.

    And then the corporate sponsors started stepping in. And fewer and fewer NBA stars began showing up for pickup games, and only started appearing for sponsored programs. And some of the magic of NBA basketball died when the sponsors cut off the players’ connections to the roots of the game.

    Stewart represents one of the last of the old school wheelmen who drive for the simple love of driving fast, be it in a NASCAR race, or some sprint cup race in some backroads town. And more and more, you’re seeing sponsors clamping down on drivers in NASCAR. I don’t know if NASCAR can survive without that connection to the roots of what made it great…

  4. midtec2005 - Aug 19, 2013 at 12:11 PM

    Oh guys who aren’t racing full time, you couldn’t find a more competent substitute driver. They might even gain some setup ideas from Mark. I think it’s a good move, and it’s nice to see him continue to receive a lot of respect from the nascar community.

  5. thetooloftools - Aug 20, 2013 at 4:06 PM

    Tony Stewert needs to get his priorities straight. Just because he likes dirt track racing, DOESN’T MEAN HE SHOULD DO IT ! Freakin’ STUPID. Wait till your NASCAR days are over and go run every dirt track race you can… I have no problem with it. Mark Martin is a great guy, but he doesn’t have anywhere near the marqee value of Stewert. If I was a sponsor, I would not be happy. I’m paying big bucks for Tony Stewert to drive number 14… not Martin.

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