NASCAR Talladega Notebook: Ty Dillon’s Stint in Stewart-Haas Ride Has Long Term Implications

(NASCAR Wire Service)

Reid Spencer ~ NASCAR Wire Service

Ty Dillon (left) talks to crew chief Mike Bugarewicz during practice for the Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on Friday (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Ty Dillon (left) talks to crew chief Mike Bugarewicz during practice for the Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on Friday (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images for NASCAR)

TALLADEGA, Ala. – Tony Stewart’s doctors would prefer he races as little as possible in Sunday’s GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway (on FOX at 1 p.m. ET), where the prospect of being swept up in a major multi-car accident is omnipresent.

That’s why Ty Dillon is slated to take over the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet under the race’s first caution period, whenever that may occur.

The interior of the car is set up for Dillon, who likely will spend the bulk of the time behind the wheel on Sunday. Though Stewart raced last Sunday at Richmond in his first competition since suffering a broken back during the offseason, the danger of further injury at Talladega was the tipping point that convinced Stewart that exiting the car was the prudent choice.

Dillon qualified the No. 14 Chevy in the 14th spot on Saturday, but Sunday’s race likely will be his last appearance in the car. But Dillon already is looking toward a future of full-time racing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, and he believes his stint as a relief driver for Stewart will help him realize that goal.

“I think it’s helped a lot,” said Dillon, who has subbed for Stewart in three of the eight races the three-time series champion missed. “I was hoping to maybe be full-time this year in the Sprint Cup series about this time last year. That’s where I kind of had my goals set, my eyes set, but the opportunity didn’t come along.

“I can’t thank Stewart-Haas and their organization enough for giving me the opportunity to fill in this year with Tony being out. Not only has it helped me with my career and getting better as a race car driver, but it’s helped me show people that I can get the job done in other equipment, too—and that I can prove myself in other ways.

“I’m very thankful for the opportunity they have given me. It’s helped a lot with a lot of things in my career. Hopefully, it just continues to get better.”


With the retirement of Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr. is without question the pre-eminent active restrictor-plate racer in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

The driver of the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet has won six times at Talladega Superspeedway, double the number of wins accumulated by second-place Brad Keselowski. He also has four Cup wins at Daytona, including two Daytona 500s.

But what makes Earnhardt so good at racing in the draft?

“One of the things that helped me a lot was when RCR (Richard Childress Racing) and DEI (Dale Earnhardt Inc.) and (Andy) Petree formed the RAD racing program that was strictly dedicated to plate racing,” Earnhardt said. “And (crew chiefs) Tony (Eury) Sr. and Tony Jr., just by happenstance, happened to be very smart about what they needed out of their plate cars and how to work in some of the gray areas that a lot of people didn’t know about.

“Watching my dad (the late Dale Earnhardt Sr.), who was one of the best, I learned a tremendous amount because I solely watched him, whereas someone else who grew up around the sport may not have focused as much on one particular driver. All those things maybe helped me develop into maybe a better plate race car driver than the average guy.”

Dale Earnhardt Sr., of course, is the all-time victory leader at Talladega with 10.


NASCAR fans posting to Snapchat from Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday will have a chance to share their race-day experiences with Snapchat users across the world.

For the second time this season, the fast-growing social media platform will cover a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with a “Live Story” – a curated stream of video and photo Snaps shared with Snapchat’s more than 200 million daily users. Once posted, the Live Story from Talladega will be available to view on Snapchat for 24 hours.

In February, NASCAR announced a partnership with Snapchat doubling the number of race events covered by Live Stories this season. During the 2016 Daytona 500, Snapchat’s first NASCAR Live Story provided users a unique look at the Great American Race, from behind-the-scenes in the garage to the fans cheering from the grandstands.

“NASCAR fans are capturing the pageantry and excitement of race day on their mobile devices and with Snapchat we’re able to share that experience well beyond the race track,” said Jill Gregory, NASCAR senior vice president, marketing and industry services. “Live Stories are about providing Snapchat users with an inside look at our sport – and they continue to work well for us.”

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