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Stewart Out For Season; Martin To Drive No. 14

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Monday, August 19 2013

Mark Martin to sub for Tony Stewart . (File photo by Geoff Burke/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Mark Martin will fill in for injured Tony Stewart and drive the No. 14 Stewart- Haas Racing Chevrolet it was announced on Monday. Martin will drive in the rest of the Cup races with the exception of the one at Talladega, where Austin Dillon will be in the car.

Stewart, who suffered a broken leg in a sprint car race in Iowa earlier this month, will miss the remainder of the 2013 season.

“After consulting with Tony’s doctors and speaking with Tony, we agreed it was best for him to focus on his recovery,” said Greg Zipadelli, competition director, SHR. “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.”

Brian Vickers, who, it was announced earlier will drive the No. 55 Toyota full time for Michael Waltrip Racing next year, will be in that MRW car in 12 of the 13 races remaining in the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup season.

The announcement follows the mutual decision by MWR and Aaron’s Inc. to grant Mark Martin an early release.

“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 Waltrip, a two-time Daytona 500 champion.

“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.”

In 2012 and 2013 with MWR, Martin earned five top-five finishes and five pole awards in 39 races. His work with teammates Clint Bowyer and Martin Truex Jr. also played a role in MWR putting both drivers in NASCAR’s 2012 Chase for the Sprint Cup as well as making both favorites to earn 2013 berths.

“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 joined MWR in 2012 with plans to run a five-race schedule. That schedule increased as the performance improved and the Thomasville, N.C. native grew more comfortable with the organization. He won the July race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and posted four top-five finishes in 14 races with MWR.

“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 who is also seeking a second Nationwide championship in 2013.

“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.”

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Monday, August 19 2013
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