Austin Dillon to drive No. 14 car at Michigan for injured Tony Stewart

USA TODAY Sports

Austin Dillon will sub for the injured Tony Stewart in this weekend’s NASCAR race at Michigan.

With Tony Stewart still recovering from a broken right leg, Austin Dillon will drive his No. 14 car this weekend at Michigan International Speedway, Stewart-Haas Racing announced Monday.

Dillon, the current Nationwide Series points leader by three over Sam Hornish Jr., will commute between Michigan and Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, the site of Saturday's Nationwide race.

"If you look at his record in the Truck Series and the job he's done in the Nationwide, that's kind of what we're basing it off of," said Stewart-Haas Racing competition director Greg Zipadelli Monday. "He runs good at Michigan. He's got a good record there. He's young, and ready to rock and roll."

A driver for the Aug. 24 race at Bristol has not yet been determined. Initially, the team preferred to have one driver fill in for the duration of Stewart's absence. However, because of logistics, Zipadelli acknowledged last week that this might not be an option.

As of now, the team is considering fill-in drivers on a race-to-race basis. SHR will have a better idea of when Stewart could possibly return after he meets with doctors Wednesday.

"We're working on some of that stuff now and hopefully we'll see it," Zipadelli said. "It may be more than two (drivers), maybe three or four. If that's the case, we'll look at each individual racetrack and see who is available that runs good at that racetrack and make the best choice we can."

Because Nationwide has a five-and-a-half-hour practice session Thursday at Mid-Ohio, Dillon will skip practice the following day and be at Michigan all day Friday for Cup practice and qualifying.

"It's a great opportunity for me," Dillon said. "We're really focused on the Nationwide championship as well, and we're going to give both parties a great opportunity at a win this weekend. We're going to go out there and try to run strong."

Dillon has limited experience in NASCAR's premier division, having made just nine starts, but he did finish a career-best 11th in the June Cup race. The 23-year-old also recently won the inaugural Truck Series race at Eldora Speedway, the dirt track owned by Stewart.

Another factor playing a role in Dillon subbing for Stewart is his existing relationship with Bass Pro Shops, one of the primary sponsors on the No. 14 car.

"I've watched Austin for many years and at each stage of his racing career he's been successful," Stewart said in a statement. "He's proven to be a very fast learner, and he's able to adapt quickly. Being the youngest champion in the history of the Truck Series is proof of that. His background in dirt racing is an asset, and off the track we share many of the same interests, specifically, hunting and fishing.

"I know he'll perform well at Michigan and I'm just as confident in his ability to properly represent Mobil 1 and Bass Pro Shops throughout the race weekend."

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