HAMPTON, Ga. – Ty Dillon’s work load tripled this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
With Dillon tabbed as the substitute driver for injured Tony Stewart for Sunday’s Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event (1 p.m. ET on FOX), Dillon will be battling for 500 miles in addition to the 250 he’ll run in Saturday’s Heads Up Georgia 250 NASCAR XFINITY Series race (1:30 p.m. ET on FS1).
But to Dillon, the opportunity to race in the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet more than makes up for the extra work.
“It’s a huge weekend,” Dillon said on Friday during a question-and-answer with reporters in the Atlanta media center. “First of all, I have to thank Stewart-Haas Racing for the opportunity to be in the 14 car. I think everybody wants to see Tony in this car. With those unfortunate circumstances, I was able to be in the car this weekend, which is good for me to get the experience in such great equipment.”
Stewart suffered a burst fracture of his L1 vertebra in a Jan. 31 all-terrain vehicle accident in Southern California’s Glamis Dunes. He has vowed to return to the No. 14 car this season, but there is no specific timetable.
Brian Vickers took Stewart’s place in the Daytona 500, finishing 26th, and will be back in the car March 6 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. SHR hasn’t revealed a schedule for replacement drivers beyond the first three races of the 2016 season.
Nevertheless, Dillon isn’t bashful about his prospects for his first trip in the 14.
“I have high expectations for this weekend,” said Dillon, whose brother Austin Dillon subbed for Stewart for two races in 2013, after the three-time champion broke his leg in a sprint car accident in Iowa. “I said it earlier in the week that I always set my goals high.
“I want to run good in this car. I want to do good for Tony and Stewart-Haas Racing. I don’t see why we shouldn’t be able to run in the top 10 or top 15. I’m going to give it all I have. I’ve been talking with (crew chief) Mike (Bugarewicz) all week. I want to go out there and impress a lot of people and show people what I’m made of and what I can do in these race cars.”
Dillon will start 18th Sunday. He had some advice from Stewart himself on Friday as the injured driver made an appearance at Atlanta.