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Austin Dillon to sub for Stewart at Michigan

August 12, 2013, David Caraviello, NASCAR.com

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Full-time replacement driver not yet determined

Austin Dillon will drive Tony Stewart’s No. 14 Chevrolet in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Michigan International Speedway, Stewart-Haas Racing announced Monday afternoon.

Dillon, a former NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion and the current points leader in the Nationwide Series, has made nine previous starts at NASCAR’s premier level with a best finish of 11th at Michigan earlier this year. Max Papis drove the No. 14 car to a 15th-place finish Sunday on the road course at Watkins Glen International, the first race Stewart missed after breaking two bones in his lower right leg in a sprint car crash Aug. 5.

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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 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.”

SHR has not named a driver for the Aug. 24 race at Bristol or beyond, nor established a timetable for the three-time Sprint Cup champion’s return. Stewart was released from a North Carolina hospital on Sunday after a second surgery to repair a broken tibia and fibula fractured in a crash during a sprint car race at Southern Iowa Speedway in Oskaloosa. Doctors estimate the normal recovery time for such an injury to be at least four to six weeks.

Dillon, 23, has two career Nationwide victories and five Truck Series triumphs -- the most recent coming last month at the Eldora Speedway dirt track owned by Stewart. Although Stewart will fall out of Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup contention during his absence, Papis maintained an 11th-place position in series owners’ points with his finish in the No. 14 car this past weekend.

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