Youngster Takes Reigns of Stewart’s No. 14 Chevrolet SS at Atlanta
KANNAPOLIS, North Carolina (Feb. 24, 2015) – Ty Dillon will pilot the No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Chevrolet SS when it hits the pavement for this weekend’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Regular driver Tony Stewart’s off-season injury has shuffled the Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) team’s driver lineup at the 1.54-mile ultra-fast track. Instead of the three-time series champion Stewart, the 23-year-old Dillon, one of the sport’s brightest young stars, will drive the No. 14 Chevrolet in just his ninth career Sprint Cup start.
Dillon drove the No. 95 Chevrolet SS to a 25th-place finish for Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing in Sunday’s 58th Daytona 500. It capped a successful Daytona Speedweeks for the youngster, who also posted the fastest qualifying speed and finished 13th in Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race.
While it’s still early in his Sprint Cup career, Dillion boasts extensive NASCAR bloodlines and significant experience outside the Sprint Cup garage. The Welcome, North Carolina native owns 79 Xfinity Series and 53 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races. He’s won once in the Xfinity Series and is a three-time winner in the Truck Series, including the Atlanta race on Aug. 31, 2012 when he led 40 of the race’s 130 laps.
Dillon, who turns 24 Saturday, is the younger brother of driver Austin Dillon, son of former driver Mike Dillon and grandson of Hall of Fame car owner Richard Childress.
He’ll work with Mike Bugarewicz, who took over the No. 14 crew chief duties in 2016 after serving as the lead engineer for SHR’s No. 4 team since its inception in 2014.
Stewart underwent surgery after sustaining a burst fracture of the L1 vertebra in an all-terrain vehicle accident Jan. 31 while vacationing on the West Coast. While he remained in North Carolina during the 2016 Speedweeks, Stewart was in radio contact with SHR teams and drivers in Daytona.
A timetable for Stewart’s return has not been determined, but he is expected to make a full recovery and return to the No. 14 Chevrolet in 2016.
Brian Vickers drove the No. 14 to a 26th-place finish in Sunday’s Daytona 500. He battled with the leaders throughout the final 40 laps of the race before fading to midpack in the final 10 laps. It was a week of solid performances for the No. 14. Vickers earned an eighth-place finish Feb. 18 in the second of the Can Am Duel qualifying races. A cut tire on lap 23 of the 60-lap non-points Sprint Unlimited Feb. 13 left Vickers with a 24th-place finish.
Vickers will return to the No. 14 Mobil 1 Chevrolet March 4-6 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Ty Dillon, Driver of the No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing:
What are your thoughts on replacing Tony Stewart at Atlanta?
“First of all, it is an honor for me to step into the No. 14 for Tony. It’s definitely an unfortunate situation on how this came about. But, for me, I am going to take it and run with it. It’s cool to have Bass Pro Shops on board. I was over at their shop earlier this week, getting the seat fitted and going to lunch with (crew chief) Mike (Bugarewicz). I’m looking forward to the opportunity. It’s definitely a big one for me. It’s something I really want to capitalize on for myself and my career.”
Thoughts on the tough, slick Atlanta track?
“The new (downforce) package is somewhat new to me. I did get to run the Cup race there a few years ago and got a lot of good experience with the older package. I feel like I know what it takes to have a fast racecar there, but I know it is going to be different with a different (aero) package. Talking with Mike and everyone at Stewart-Haas, I think there is no reason we shouldn’t run really well and surprise some people.”
Will you lean on your brother Austin Dillon for help?
“I’m sure I’ll be leaning on Austin quite a bit and I have some great teammates at Stewart-Haas Racing, especially Kevin Harvick. The first race I ever ran at Atlanta in the Trucks, I talked to Harvick for an hour right before the first practice and we ended up winning the race. I have some great people to lean on. Having a brother I can talk to about anything definitely helps. I plan to use all my resources this weekend to get as much experience as I can as quickly as I can to perform really well in the No. 14 car.”
What are your goals for Atlanta?
“I have always been a person to set expectations and goals really high. If you don’t set your goals really high, you will never achieve them. Me and Mike (Bugarewicz) talked about it and we think we can definitely run on the lead lap, finish the race with the body in the same position it started the race, and get in the top-10, top-five, and do the best I can.”
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