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.