Who’s Stepping Into Smokey’s Boots?

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Since the news of Tony Stewart’s surgery, the one question left unanswered in the NASCAR world is “Who is going to replace the three time champion?”

With Smokey out and almost certain to miss out on the Chase, one driver’s name has cropped up more than others, and that’s NASCAR’s Nationwide Series points leader Austin Dillon.

The 23-year-old has confirmed he has spoken with Stewart-Haas Racing about possibly driving Stewart’s No. 14 car.

The Richard Childress Racing driver also has strong connections and associate sponsorship from Bass Pro Shops, the main sponsor of Stewart in the Cup Series.

Although Dillon only has nine Cup starts, he recently won the successful truck race at Stewart’s Eldora Speedway and is expected to make the switch in 2014.

“We’ve been talking a little bit,” Dillon told Sporting News after the Nationwide Series qualifying at Watkins Glen. “We’ll see. I feel pretty confident that we can do it and be fine. Hopefully we can do some of them. I’d like to.”

For the Sprint Cup race at Watkins Glen, Max Papis will take Stewart’s place.

If Dillon does get a seat in the No. 14 car, it might be at Bristol as the Cup teams are at Michigan International Speedway and the Nationwide teams are at Mid-Ohio next week.

Dillon is set to race in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series at a few more circuits in the No. 33 car, a vehicle prepared by Richard Childress Racing and fielded by Circle Sport Racing, although he could easily move to SHR for those events if needed.

 

James Harris is a NASCAR writer for RantSports.com

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