Stewart would prefer to make Chase on own merits

Ty Dillon in the garage area at Talladega Friday.

Ty Dillon in the garage area at Talladega Friday.

TALLADEGA, Ala. – In NASCAR racing, the driver of record in an event is the driver who starts the race.

Even if a relief driver should take over, the driver who took the green flag to start the race gets credit for the victory.

You’ll recall that in 2007 Aric Almirola got his only NASCAR XFINITY Series win at the Milwaukee Mile, though he got out of the car after 58 laps to make way for late-arriving Denny Hamlin, who had travel issues on his commute from Sonoma Raceway.

Though the box score gives Almirola credit for the victory and for 107 laps led, it was Hamlin who took the checkered flag in the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Chevrolet.

Similarly, if Tony Stewart hands over the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet to Ty Dillon under the first caution in Sunday’s GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway, as planned, and if Dillon happens to win the race, Stewart would get credit for the victory and everything that comes with it—including a spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup (provided he finishes the regular season in the top 30 in points).

But after missing the first eight races of the season while recovering from a back injury, Stewart would prefer to get to Victory Lane the old-fashioned way.

“I don’t think I will feel good about it if I were to get a spot that way,” Stewart said on Friday at Talladega. “I know I wouldn’t feel good about it.

“I think for me to make the Chase, it needs to be because I ran the whole race and won the race. Not started it and somebody else won it for me.”

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