Austin Dillon subbing for Tony Stewart at Michigan

From the Marbles

Austin Dillon was tabbed by Stewart-Haas Racing on Monday to be the replacement driver for Tony Stewart at Michigan on Sunday.

Dillon currently leads the Nationwide Series points standings by three points over Sam Hornish.

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“I’ve watched Austin for many years and at each stage of his racing career he’s been successful,” Stewart said in a team release. “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.”

See, just like in all relationships, common interests are foundational for a replacement driver. Bass Pro Shops sponsored Dillon when he won the 2010 Camping World Truck Series title.

The team has not named a replacement for the races starting after Michigan, though Dillon is likely still a candidate to replace Stewart for more races until he returns from the broken leg he suffered in a sprint car race in Iowa a week ago. Stewart was released from the hospital in North Carolina following a second surgery on Sunday evening.

"Well, it's going to be a weekly occurrence here for a little while," Stewart-Haas Racing Competition Director Greg Zipadelli said Monday afternoon about the replacement process for Stewart. "We'll evaluate each race as it comes and do the best job we can with putting someone in it we feel will do a good job for Stewart‑Haas and all of our partners."

"We will probably know more next week. Tony has a doctor's appointment Wednesday here to just kind of go over things, and at that point we'll have a lot better idea of what we're doing. But for right now it will probably be a week‑by‑week decision as far as who is in the car."

Zipadelli seemed to rule out a Nationwide Series driver for Stewart's seat at Michigan on Friday at Watkins Glen, as the Nationwide Series is running that weekend at Mid-Ohio. Ultimately, Dillon's schedule was able to be adapted for both races. He tested earlier this season at Mid-Ohio, and practice for the series' first race at the road course begins Thursday, allowing him to spend Friday at Michigan. Dillon ran the first Michigan Sprint Cup race in the No. 33 and finished 11th.

That's his highest finish in seven Sprint Cup Series starts this season. In July, he won the first Camping World Truck Series race at Eldora, the dirt track that Stewart owns.

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