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Mark Martin to take over for Tony Stewart

- dscott@charlotteobserver.com jutter@charlotteobserver.com
Sunday, Aug. 18, 2013

NASCAR veteran Mark Martin will take over the driving duties of Stewart-Haas Racing’s No. 14 Chevrolet as soon as next weekend’s Sprint Cup Series race at Bristol, Tenn., multiple sources confirmed.

Martin will drive while Tony Stewart recovers from two broken bones in his right leg, which he suffered during a sprint car race this month. Martin will remain the team’s driver the rest of the season, if necessary, except for the Oct. 20 race at Talladega, Ala., sources said.

If Stewart needs a replacement driver for Talladega, Nationwide Series regular Austin Dillon likely will drive the car in that race, sources said. Dillon was the driver Sunday at Michigan and finished 14th.

Martin was scheduled to run several more races this season with Michael Waltrip Racing’s No. 55 Toyota team, but Brian Vickers is expected to take over those races for the remainder of the season, sources said.

Last week, MWR announced Vickers would drive for the team fulltime beginning next year.

An official announcement of the move is expected Monday. There was no immediate response from SHR or MWR. Jim Utter

Notebook

Dillon rallies from early spin: Austin Dillon, driving for the first and perhaps last time in a relief role for Tony Stewart, finished 14th despite spinning early in the race.

“I was up and down,” said Dillon, who dropped to fourth in the Nationwide Series standings Saturday with a 21st-place finish at Mid-Ohio. “I definitely scared myself at the beginning. It was too early to be wrecking out there. Luckily we saved enough car where we could work on it.”

More bad luck for Earnhardt: Dale Earnhardt Jr. had one of the stronger cars, leading 20 laps before a flat tire forced him into the wall on Lap 136. He spent the rest of the day in and out of the pits and finished 36th. He also dropped one place in points to seventh but is just 16 points ahead of 10th.

“This bad luck, it’s been biting us every week,” said Earnhardt, who had three top-10s in five previous races. “We need to shake that.”

Earnhardt said he isn’t stressing about his chances at making the Chase.

“It’s a competitive sport and we’ve got some good teams behind us,” he said. “It’s just a little closer than we’d like it to be.”

Bowyer calm in recovery: Clint Bowyer didn’t waste time in spinning his Toyota. He didn’t make it through the first lap. But he recovered sufficiently to finish fifth and remain second in points, 41 behind Jimmie Johnson.

“Spinning out on the first lap, I felt good, wide open, stuck – then all of a sudden I wasn’t stuck and away I went,” Bowyer said. “I just regrouped and calmed back down. I about wrecked again several times and we couldn’t go anywhere.”

Scott: 705-358-5889; Twitter: @davidscott14

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