Greg Zipadelli, competition director for Stewart-Haas Racing just announced that Austin
Dillon will be the interim driver of the No. 14, Mobil 1/Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet SS at Michigan International Speedway. Dillon is the current NASCAR Nationwide Series points leader with two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Michigan including last June when he finished a career best 11th.
Zipadelli spoke to the media via a Teleconference on how Dillon was chosen:
“We went down through the list and saw who is available and who had track time, who was doing double duty and was willing to try to work out a schedule that would work for both sides. He has a strong relationship with Bass Pro Shop, and a big part of how we go through this is making sure that our partners are happy with what we’re doing as far as who we’re putting in the car and who will represent their brands in the way they want it represented.”
Then, Austin Dillon spoke:
“I’m really looking forward to the opportunity that’s presented itself here at Stewart-Haas. I just want to thank all the parties at RCR and Stewart-Haas for giving me this opportunity to let me go out there in a premier ride in the Cup series. Like I said, we’ve had a great relationship with Bass Pro Shops and looking forward to representing them and Mobil 1 this weekend.
It’s a great opportunity for me. We’re really focused on the Nationwide Championship as well, and we’re going to give both parties a great opportunity at a win this weekend. We’re going to go out there and try to run strong.”
SHR will evaluate each race as it comes and do the best job they can with putting someone in it they feel will do a good job for Stewart-Haas and all of their partners.
“We will probably know more next week,” said Zipadelli. ”Tony has a doctor’s appointment Wednesday just to go over things, and at that point we’ll have a lot better idea of what we’re doing. But for right now it will probably be a week-by-week decision as far as who is in the car.”
SHR is hoping to work with one or two drivers so that it will give them some consistency and build some communication between the crew and the driver.
Asked if there was any hesitation for having an RCR guy in SHR’s & Hendrick’s equipment about possibly learning about what you all have so you might be competing against him down the road, Zipadelli replied, “We’re going to put a blindfold on him, and right before he backs out of the garage we’ll take it off. (Laughing). Then he won’t be able to look.”
Zipadelli continues, “No – I mean, yes, it will probably be difficult at times, but I think it’s a one-shot deal for right here right now. We’ll see where that goes. We’ll see how it all works. We’ve got to be guarded, and the same with him. He’s got to come over here and trust that we can put something in the car that he can drive. And same time he can come over here and tell us all the things they’re doing too. So I think on both sides we’ll be respectful of each other, and do the best job we can. I think it will be fine. Besides that, he won’t be there that much anyway.”
Source: NASCAR Media /Transcripts