NASCAR

Dillon pick shows SHR has big goals

Driver Austin Dillon
Austin Dillon will drive the No. 14 Chevrolet on Sunday at Michigan International Speedway.
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Jeff Hammond

Jeff Hammond is a former NASCAR crew chief who led Darrell Waltrip to two of his three Sprint Cup championships. The duo also teamed up to win the 1989 Daytona 500. Prior to that, Hammond was the jackman for Cale Yarborough for all three of his Cup championships. He has 43 Sprint Cup wins as a crew chief. Follow him on Twitter.

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Austin Dillon has a great opportunity driving the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet at Michigan International Speedway this weekend for the injured Tony Stewart.

It’s pretty evident with Stewart-Haas Racing, what the mission statement is: They’re looking to put another solid run in this week.

I feel like Austin Dillon, throughout his entire career, has been a very consistent and very smart race car driver. He’s not made a lot of mistakes, he’s not wrecked a lot of race cars. So that’s going to be a big plus, I think, for that organization to have that opportunity to allow this young man to make a good run.

Now as far as Austin Dillon is concerned, I think it’s an excellent opportunity for him to go to school and evaluate the Richard Childress Racing program compared to Stewart-Haas. From the way that they go through the process of setting their car up, to what they ask when he comes in, as far as what the car is doing and what they’re looking for from him in terms of feedback — how they pull that out of him and how they go about working shocks vs. springs and swaybars.

And he’ll also have an opportunity to evaluate the engine program that his grandfather runs vs. the Hendrick engines that SHR uses, which have been extremely good throughout 2013.

I believe it’s a super opportunity for this young man, having driven for several different Sprint Cup teams this year before he has a full-time Cup ride. I think that will be a huge benefit in his career.

As for Tony, I’m still doing research on his injury, but what I’ve come up with in my early research about the type of procedure he’s had, and from what I understand about the nature of his break, I feel like it’s going to be in the best interest of Tony Stewart and his career as a race car driver, as well as just a human being, an active individual, to give himself time to heal up.

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This is not going to be an injury he’s going to be able to rush. He’s 42 years old. We all understand, we don’t heal as fast, the older we get. We know he’s not really big on rehabbing. I think there’s some things he’s going to be faced with.

So I think there are a lot of things that are going to come out of this injury that are going to challenge him — a lot more than he’s ever been challenged before. I feel like it’s in his best interest to stay out of the car and get healthy. We know he’s very talented, and when he comes back, he’ll go 110 percent. Why run the risk of having a setback by getting caught up in someone else’s mistake?

Tagged: Austin Dillon, Tony Stewart

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