Points: 57, 71 points from 30th (38th in the standings)
Quote of the race: “I don’t know how in the world I missed getting in that.” — Ty Dillon on the team radio after narrowly escaping a 21 car accident with 28 laps to go.
Racing at Talladega always makes me antsy. I am not a big fan of wrecks- especially the kind where cars can go flying every which way. I remember one Talladega…was it 2009? 2010? Some where around there were Ryan Newman ended up upside down in the grass. That was terrible. Knowing my driver is out there driving with a fairly significant back injury that is healing? That is crazy making for me. So when I read that the plan was to have Tony start the race and then get out during the first caution so that Ty Dillon could take over the reigns? That made me much happier and at ease with the idea of Tony being out there in that car at that track. A track infamous for the “big one.”
Because this was the plan all along, Ty and Tony spent time on Friday practicing the driver swap in the garage area- I saw a short video of them practicing in the garage. Now I have been to sports car races where there are driver changes and I see the drivers in the paddock at these races practicing the swap out. It’s a fascinating process to watch- and these are teams that do this all the time. This is not something that happens every day in NASCAR.
The 14 car was outfitted with Ty’s seat and settings. As Tony said- Ty did all the “heavy lifting” during the weekend – which included qualifying the car 14th. The starting spot wouldn’t matter though because Tony was the one who started the race instead of Ty who qualified the car- he had to start in the back anyway. But it was all part of the plan anyway. Tony stayed near the back of the field throughout the 50+ laps he made around Talladega. They even had to go through a round of green flag pitstops before the first caution reared it’s head. It was during this first round of pitstops that Tony got assessed a pit road speeding penalty which when he served it put him a lap down. Luckily for Tony, the caution came out quickly after serving his penalty when Dale Earnhardt Jr had a spin and some fairly significant contact fairly close to Tony on track. This not only put the driver back on the lead lap but allowed for the driver swap. Even crew chief Mike Bugarewicz said that the wreck was a bit too close for comfort before they brought Stewart down pit road to make the driver stop. For me the most interesting part of the driver stop is that once Tony got out of the car he started helping when Ty got into the car instead of just getting out of the way.
In an interview on the national broadcast after the swap you could tell Tony didn’t want to get out of the car but did because he had to.
Ty Dillon took over the reigns of the car and started working his way forward after the first caution. He drove his butt off and narrowly escaped a couple of very close calls on the track throughout the rest of the race which saw wrecks in which cars got airborne (Chris Buescher and Matt Kenseth in separate accidents) and several hard impacts including that of team mate Danica Patrick who made extremely hard impact with an inside wall. I think I read that 30 cars in all obtained some sort of damage in the 40 car field. Ty was able to get the team’s second top ten finish this year when he brought it home 6th and closed the gap between Tony and 30th in the standings (originally the gap was 101 and it has narrowed to 71 points).
Race winner was repeat winner Brad Keselowski. Ty was the highest finisher in Stewart-Haas with his sixth place finish, followed by Kurt Busch who finished 8th. Kevin Harvick finished 15th and Danica finished 24th.
This Saturday we are racing in Kansas for the Go Bowling 400.
Gratuitous Tony Stewart Pictures:
Vote now to help Tony Stewart be voted 2016 All Star Giver and Humanitarian of the year. Vote Daily: https://givkwik.com/campaigns/asu-2016/TonyStewart #AllStarGiv_Stewart
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