Tony Stewart confirms Ty Dillon, Brian Vickers to share driving duties in No. 14

(Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
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Tony Stewart confirmed Friday that Ty Dillon will drive the No. 14 car when it has Bass Pro Shops sponsorship and that Brian Vickers will drive the car in other races until his return.

Vickers drove for Stewart in the Daytona 500 and is in the car this weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway with Mobil 1 serving as the primary sponsor. Dillon drove the car last weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway because of Bass Pro’s sponsorship. Bass Pro, which has been affiliated with Dillon previously, is scheduled to be the car’s primary sponsor for next week’s race at Phoenix International Raceway, at Auto Club Speedway the following week and May 1 at Talladega Superspeedway.

MORE: Tony Stewart on what races he’d like to run after this year

Stewart has no timetable for when he’ll race again. He suffered a burst fracture of his L1 vertebra during a sand dunes accident on Jan. 31 and had surgery Feb. 3. He said he’s scheduled to have X-rays taken of his back Wednesday.

“The biggest concern is just making sure it heals right the first time,” Stewart said Friday.

The X-rays could provide a timeline for when Stewart returns to race this season.

“When they clear me to (race), I can promise you I’ll be ready,” Stewart said. “We’ve been through enough pain tolerance with (his broken right leg in 2013) and this.”

Stewart also said he’s hopeful NASCAR waives the requirement that a driver must start every race to be Chase eligible for him. Even so, the three-time series champion would still need to be in the top 30 in points and at earn at least one win to qualify for the Chase.

“Whatever they decide, they decide,” Stewart said of NASCAR. “I would like to think it’s going to be similar to what they did last year with Kyle (Busch).”

NASCAR waived the requirement that a driver had to start every race for Busch after he was injured in an Xfinity race the day before last year’s Daytona 500. Busch was injured when his car slammed into an unprotected concrete wall inside Turn 1. Stewart’s injury, though, came in an activity away from the track.

NASCAR also granted a waiver last year to Kurt Busch, who was suspended the first three races after a court ruling against him, and to Kyle Larson after he fainted the day before the spring Martinsville race.

Until Stewart can race, he wants to be at the track with his team even if doctors would prefer he was at home in bed or walking on a treadmill.

“I think it’s good for our team more than anything,” Stewart said of being at the track. “I want to be here to support them. I want them to know that even though I’ve kind of put them in a box again, that I’m going to be here and I’m going to be supportive. That’s a big deal to me, to be here and let those guys know I’m behind them 100 percent.”

He’s also at the track because he’s tired of being home recuperating.

“You lay around now because you’re being told to and it’s like, I can’t do it anymore,” Stewart said. “I’ve got to get up and get moving around. I’m a lot happier (at the track). I would rather be here and be in pain than be at home, be comfortable, and no pain. The pain is worth it to me. I don’t mind it.”

 

 

NASCAR Power Rankings: William Byron, Kyle Busch rank 1-2

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Kyle Busch moved closer to the top spot after his win Sunday at WWT Raceway, but William Byron keeps hold of No. 1 after another top-10 run.

The series heads to Sonoma Raceway this weekend, the second race of the season on a road course.

NBC SPORTS NASCAR POWER RANKINGS

(Previous ranking in parenthesis)

1. William Byron (1) — He goes into Sonoma with six consecutive top-10 finishes after his eighth-place result at WWT Raceway. Byron has led a series-high 717 laps this season.

2. Kyle Busch (4) — Recorded his third win of the season Sunday. He is tied with Byron for most wins this year. Busch scored 59 of a maximum 60 points and won his first stage of the year Sunday. He has 16 playoff points. Only Byron has more with 17 this season.

3. Kyle Larson (3) — His fourth-place finish continued his up-and-down season. In the last nine races, Larson has two wins, four top fives, a 20th-place result and four finishes of 30th or worse. He has led 588 laps this season, which ranks second this year to Byron.

4. Martin Truex Jr. (2) — His fifth-place finish is his sixth top 10 in the last eight races. He ranks third in laps led this year with 383.

5. Denny Hamlin (7) — Runner-up result at WWT Raceway is his fourth top 10 in the last seven races.

6. Ryan Blaney (10) — Followed Coca-Cola 600 win with a sixth-place run at WWT Raceway. He had an average running position of 2.6 on Sunday, second only to winner Kyle Busch’s average running position of 1.9.

7. Joey Logano (9) — Third-place finish is his second top 10 in the last four races.

8. Kevin Harvick (NR) — His 10th-place finish is his fourth consecutive finish of 11th or better.

9. Ross Chastain (6) — Lost the points lead after placing 22nd, his third consecutive finish outside the top 20.

10. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (NR) — Headed for his eighth top 15 in a row until he was collected in a crash after the contact between Austin Cindric and Austin Dillon late in Sunday’s race.

Dropped out: Chase Elliott (5th), Tyler Reddick (8th)

NASCAR will not penalize Austin Cindric for incident with Austin Dillon

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Despite Richard Childress and Austin Dillon saying that Austin Cindric intentionally wrecked Dillon late in Sunday’s Cup race at WWT Raceway, NASCAR will not penalize Cindric.

Elton Sawyer, NASCAR senior vice president of competition, said Tuesday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that there would be no penalty to Cindric after reviewing the contact.

Dillon and Childress were upset about the incident, which brought out the caution on Lap 220 of the 243-lap race. Dillon said NASCAR should suspend Cindric for the contact, just as NASCAR suspended Chase Elliott one race for hooking Denny Hamlin in the Coca-Cola 600.

Contact between the left front of Cindric’s car and the right rear of Dillon’s car sent Dillon up the track into Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Dillon finished 31st. Cindric continued and placed 13th.

Dillon told Frontstretch.com: “I was wrecked intentionally by (Cindric), hooked right just like Chase and Denny and Bubba’s deal (in wrecking Kyle Larson at Las Vegas in 2022). He better be suspended next week.”

Childress said: “(Dillon) had drove up to about 10th until (Cindric) wrecked him in there on purpose, sort of a payback.”

Sawyer said a review of the incident included viewing video and data.

“We didn’t see anything — and haven’t seen anything — that really would rise to a level that would be a suspension or a penalty,” Sawyer said. “It looked like hard racing. One car coming up a little bit and another car going down.

“As we said last week, we take these incidents very serious when we see cars that are turned head-on into another car or head-on into the wall. I spent a lot of time (Monday) looking at that, looking at all the data, looking at TV footage and just deemed this one really hard racing.”

Sawyer said NASCAR plans to talk to both Cindric and Dillon “to make sure we’re all in a good place as we move forward to Sonoma.”

 

 

Seven Cup drivers entered in Xfinity race at Sonoma

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Kyle Larson is among seven Cup drivers entered in Saturday’s Xfinity Series race at Sonoma Raceway.

The race marks the first time the Xfinity Series has competed at the California road course. Teams will get 50 minutes of practice Friday because this is a new event on the schedule. That additional time will give those Cup drivers more laps on the 1.99-mile road course.

MORE: Sonoma Xfinity entry list

Here is a look at what Xfinity rides the Cup drivers will pilot this weekend:

The race is scheduled to start at 8 p.m. ET Saturday.

The ARCA Menards Series West also is competing this weekend at Sonoma Raceway. Cup driver Ryan Preece is entered in that event. Xfinity drivers Cole Custer, Riley Herbst, Sammy Smith and Parker Retzlaff also are entered in that race, which will be held at 6:30 p.m. ET Friday.

 

Winners and losers at WWT Raceway

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Winners and losers from Sunday’s Cup race at WWT Raceway:

WINNERS

Kyle BuschWins the pole, leads the most laps and holds the field off over the last five restarts to win the race. He scored six playoff points, giving him 16 on the season, second only to William Byron’s 17. Busch left Joe Gibbs Racing after last season for Richard Childress Racing. Busch’s three wins this year equals what JGR has done so far.

Ryan BlaneyHis sixth-place finish moved him into the points lead. He last led the points after the spring 2022 Richmond race. Blaney also won a stage Sunday to collect another playoff point. He has seven this season.

Kyle LarsonFourth-place finish was a big turnaround after struggles earlier in the race. It has not been easy for this team the last few weeks. He has three top-five finishes and four finishes of 20th or worse in the last seven races.

Daniel SuarezHis seventh-place finish moved him up two spots to 16th in the standings, the final playoff transfer spot at this time.

LOSERS

Ross ChastainHe finished 22nd for his third consecutive result outside the top 20. He entered the weekend leading the points and fell to fifth afterward. He is 29 points behind new series leader Ryan Blaney with 11 races left in the regular season.

Tyler ReddickRebounded from an early spin to lead but had his race end after a brake rotor failed. He was one of four drivers eliminated by brake rotor failures. The others were Carson Hocevar, Bubba Wallace and Noah Gragson.