The team confirmed the news via a press release sent via email Monday afternoon adding that Tony Stewart is out for the remainder of the 2013 season after suffering a broken right tibia and fibula in a sprint car crash Aug. 5 at Southern Iowa Speedway in Oskaloosa, Iowa. They added that Stewart is expected to return to the seat of the No. 14 Chevy in time for pre-season testing in January 2014.
Martin will race at Bristol and in 11 other races. Austin Dillon, the 2011 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion who filled in for Stewart this past weekend at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn will be in the seat for the Oct.-20 at Sprint Cup race at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway.
“After consulting with Tony’s doctors and speaking with Tony, we agreed it was best for him to focus on his recovery,” Greg Zipadelli, competition director, SHR said in the emailed statement. “For the No. 14 team, our focus is on positioning them for a run at the owner championship. Mark Martin and Austin Dillon give us the best opportunity to do that, and we certainly appreciate Michael Waltrip Racing and Richard Childress Racing for making Mark and Austin available to us.”
In the 11 races where Martin will compete for SHR, he has 21 collective victories at those tracks (Bristol – 2; Atlanta – 2; Richmond – 1; Chicagoland – 1; New Hampshire – 1; Dover – 4; Kansas – 1; Charlotte – 4; Martinsville – 2; Texas – 1; Phoenix – 2). At Bristol, Martin has a series-best nine poles, 16 top-fives, 23 top-10s and 1,200 laps led in 46 Sprint Cup starts.
“Obviously, I’m disappointed to be out of the Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevy for so long, but the team is in very good hands with Mark Martin and Austin Dillon,” Stewart said. “Mark is someone I’ve looked up to my entire career and I have a tremendous amount of respect for him. Austin is a great young talent, and he showed that Sunday at Michigan. Greg Zipadelli, Steve Addington (crew chief) and everybody at SHR supports them 100 percent. This isn’t a situation anyone wanted, but we’re going to make the best of it. In the meantime, my focus is on getting healthy and getting back into my Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevy.”
The move by Martin left his remaining races at Michael Waltrip Racing open. Martin had been sharing seat time in the No. 55 Toyota with driver Brian Vickers. MWR announced last week that Vickers would take over the ride fulltime in 2004. Shortly after the Stewart-Haas press release, MWR announced in an email that Vickers will now take over the 55 immediately.
“With Mark, we accomplished everything we hoped to when he came to this organization, which was bringing that winning confidence to the team, the experience to help elevate our program and ultimately find the full-time driver for the future who can race for a NASCAR Sprint Cup championship,” said team owner Michael Waltrip in the emailed press release. “Mark’s leadership the past two years has been so impactful that he has left a mark on this company that will be here as long as we race. This opportunity to help two Hall of Famers in Mark and Tony Stewart at the same time, while getting the opportunity to run the rest of the year with Brian makes sense for MWR. But nothing could happen without the support of Aaron’s, Toyota and the other MWR sponsors. Each of them saw the same benefits in such a move and helped make it happen. This is a truly win, win, win situation.”
“I’m proud of the work we’ve done the last two seasons and I’m extremely thankful for the effort everyone on my team and at MWR put behind me,” said the 54-year-old Martin whose 870 Sprint Cup starts is the fifth most in NASCAR history. “I also want to thank Michael Waltrip and (co-owner) Rob Kauffman for giving me this opportunity. They are building a strong organization at MWR and one that’s going to be a force in NASCAR for years to come both on and off the track.”
Vickers had been scheduled for only three more starts this season he will now add 12.
“No one wants to see Tony out of the 14, but I am appreciative of the opportunity to get more seat time in the 55 as a result,” said Vickers “I didn’t think things could get any better than last week’s announcement with Aaron's, but having a chance to run the rest of the 2013 season creates a tremendous opportunity for our team and we're excited that all of this came together the way it did. Mark gets to help out Tony and we get to start our program early in the No. 55. We’ve proven we can win races in a part time capacity so far in 2013 and I'm confident that spending more time working with the 55 crew will only to help improve our already strong performance to date, giving us the momentum needed to start the 2014 season off strong in Daytona.”