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Stewart Reluctantly Turns Car Over to Dillon

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TALLADEGA, Ala. – Tony Stewart handed his car off to Ty Dillon without issue at Lap 52, but he hated having to do so.

Stewart started his No. 14 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet and then began logging laps until the first caution. Dillon practiced and qualified the car, which was prepared to his specifications and with the Stewart-Haas Racing team putting a focus on having him behind the wheel.

The driver swap took less than two minutes.

“It sucks, to be honest. I know why we got to do it, but it sucks,” Stewart said after climbing out. “It still sucks that you have to do it, but if I hadn’t broke my back at the end of January, we wouldn’t be in this situation. Good news is this is the last time we have to do it, and I am back in next week.”

With a vertebra that is still healing, Stewart had to compromise with his doctors that he would only start the GEICO 500 in order to receive points, but not run the full race. Stewart will be able to run the full distance next weekend at Kansas Speedway and then continue with his final Sprint Cup Series season.

Dillon had been one of two interim drivers for SHR this season, sharing the seat with veteran Brian Vickers. Sunday, Dillon drove the car into contention through the second half of the event and then missed all the carnage to come home with a seventh place finish.

“I’m so glad we got a good finish for Tony and I know this team is so strong they’re going to win a race and get in the top 30 (in points),” Dillon said, which would make Stewart eligible for the Chase for the Championship. “Just glad I could be a part of what they’re going to do this year. This opportunity has meant so much for me and my career not only has a driver but as a person. I’m excited to keep going and glad to get a good finish.”

“I really appreciate Ty. He’s been a rock start through this whole thing and especially this weekend. He’s done all the heavy lifting, and I just got to ride around for 50 laps and turn it over to him,” Stewart said. “Fortunately, we got the Lucky dog and kept him on the lead lap. The change went pretty smooth – no drama there.”

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