NASCAR Michigan 2013: Tony Stewart expected to be out a month, maybe longer

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

With Tony Stewart still out with a broken leg, Austin Dillon is driving the No. 14 car this weekend at Michigan. And him filling in has created an unusual dilemma.

As Tony Stewart recovers from a broken leg that team officials think will keep him out "for the next month or so," there is an unusual marking on his No. 14 Chevrolet this weekend at Michigan International Speedway.

The marking is a yellow stripe on the rear bumper required by NASCAR to indicate a rookie driver is behind the wheel. That rookie is Austin Dillon, the Nationwide Series points leader, who is subbing for Stewart and will pull double duty running the Cup race at Michigan and the Nationwide race Saturday at the Mid-Ohio road course.

But Stewart-Haas Racing naming Dillon as Stewart's fill-in has created an interesting dichotomy.

Because he also drives for Richard Childress Racing, SHR is being guarded with how much technical information it will share with Dillon.

"We're just going to talk about what he needs," SHR competition director Greg Zipadelli said Friday. "We won't talk about particulars, about what we're changing and we're not really going to ask him to divulge things that they did here in the spring.

"We've got to be very respectful of our partners at Hendrick Motorsports. I've talked with Hendrick Motorsports, I've talked with Richard Childress about it and we've all agreed that Austin will just get in and give tight/loose and drive the hell out of it."

Zipadelli is expecting Stewart to be sidelined for at least another month -- if not longer -- and is making contingency plans accordingly.

"We don't have anything concrete yet," Zipadelli said. "We're looking at that other option and just seeing how many races that they can do. It looks like one more race at least for Austin through the rest of the year with us."

Stewart was injured Aug. 5 in a sprint car race at a dirt track in Iowa. There is still no definitive date set for when he will return from a broken tibia and fibula in his right leg.

"(Stewart) went to the doctor's this week, he had a decent visit," Zipadelli said. "No setbacks. Basically, very simple instructions: Stay in his bed with your leg up over your heart for the next seven days and then come back and see me. We'll reevaluate you and tell you what you can do.

"He's in great spirits and they changed some of his medicines and things of that nature. He's going through a little bit of a transition period, but like I said, the doctor's appointment went well or as good as it can ... It's going to be a really slow process."

Max Papis drove the No. 14 car last weekend at Watkins Glen, finishing 15th.

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