Three time Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart is unable to start the NASCAR season this weekend after suffering a severe back injury while riding his ATV in the desert; but his #14 Bass Pro/Mobile 1 Chevrolet will be and that includes the very first race of the season – the annual Shootout on Saturday night – February 13 – at Daytona International Speedway.
NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Office Steve O’Donnell stated that due to unforeseen circumstances NASCAR will allow the 14 car to participate in the Shootout race. Stewart was qualified to enter the race as a previous Sprint Unlimited winner.
Race car driver Brian Vickers has been in and out of NASCAR over the past couple of years due to blood clots, but has been medically cleared to return to NASCAR and driving. Vickers was not cleared by doctors to race as long as he was taking the blood thinning medication required to combat the blood clots.
Vickers will reportedly replace Tony Stewart as the driver of the #14 until Stewart is able to return to racing. Stewart’s racing team Stewart-Haas Racing has announced a press conference at DIS on Friday for the official announcement about a substitute driver for the #14.
In other NASCAR driver news, broadcaster, former race team owner, and sometime driver Michael Waltrip has landed a ride for the Daytona 500. Waltrip will be driving the #83 Toyota owned by BK Racing. Maxwell House coffee will be the primary sponsor for the car.
BK Racing also owned cars driven by Matt DiBenedetto and David Ragan.
Since retiring as a full time driver, Waltrip has run in only a few races each season since 2010.
Waltrip is a two time Daytona 500 winner including the 2001 race where car owner Dale Earnhardt was in third place blocking for Waltrip and son Dale Jr when he hit the outside retaining wall head on on the last lap of the race and ultimately lost his life.
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