UPDATE: Stewart out for rest of 2013, Martin, Dillon to take over No. 14

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UPDATE: 3:00 p.m. EST:  Tony Stewart will be sidelined for the rest of the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season and Mark Martin will take over the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet for 12 of the remaining 13 races. Austin Dillon, who filled in at Michigan this weekend, will race at Talladega on Oct. 20.

The team can still make the 12-team Chase for the Sprint Cup on entrant points; the No. 14 is currently 10 points behind 10th place.

A teleconference with Greg Zipadelli, Stewart-Haas Racing competition director, Martin and Michael Waltrip, Martin’s current team principal at Michael Waltrip Racing, is scheduled for 4 p.m. EST.

12:00 a.m. EST: Multiple outlets are now reporting confirmation from sources that Mark Martin will become the next interim driver for the injured Tony Stewart in the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet.

According to Jim Utter and David Scott of The Charlotte Observer, Martin will take over Stewart’s ride for the remainder of the Sprint Cup season if necessary, except for the Oct. 20 Chase race at Talladega Superspeedway. An announcement is expected to occur on Monday after the deal is finalized.

Martin was expected to run several more events this year with the No. 55 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota that he shares with Waltrip and Brian Vickers. But, per Utter and Scott’s report, Vickers – who was recently named the full-time driver of the No. 55 starting next season – will likely take over those races as Martin heads to SHR.

Stewart, the three-time Cup champion, is out indefinitely after breaking two bones in his right leg in a sprint car crash earlier this month at Oskaloosa, Iowa. He was released from the hospital last weekend.

On Sunday at Michigan, Austin Dillon became the second driver to fill in for Stewart since his injury and finished 14th. Max Papis was in the No. 14 one week ago at Watkins Glen and took the checkers in 15th place there.

It bears noting that SHR competition director Greg Zipadelli said on Friday at MIS that Dillon was likely to have “one more race at least” with the team in 2013. Taking that into consideration, Dillon may well be an option for the No. 14 at Talladega in October.

If Martin is to take over Stewart’s car, it wouldn’t be the first time he has served in a relief role this year. He drove for the injured Denny Hamlin at Martinsville in April, finishing 10th in Hamlin’s No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.

Martin had actually been announced as the sole replacement driver for Hamlin at the time, but that deal crumbled and he ultimately only filled in at Martinsville. Vickers took over Hamlin’s No. 11 starting at the next race in Texas and drove it until Hamlin returned to competition.

NHRA: Brittany Force cleared to race this weekend in Phoenix after bad wreck 2 weeks ago

Photo: John Force Racing
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Drag racing is a Force family tradition. So, too, is not keeping a Force family member down.

Just 12 days after the most serious wreck of her six-year drag racing career, Brittany Force and John Force Racing announced late Thursday afternoon that the defending 2017 NHRA Top Fuel champion has been medically cleared and will indeed race in this weekend’s NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in suburban Phoenix, Arizona.

“I flew into Phoenix early this (Thursday) morning and headed straight out to the race track to meet up with my team,” Force said. “I suited up and got belted back into my car that I ran all last season.

“It honestly felt good to be strapped back in and I was surprised how comfortable I was. I’m looking forward to getting back in my car tomorrow (Friday’s first two rounds of qualifying) and getting back in the swing of things with my guys.”

The 31-year-old Force, one of four daughters of 16-time NHRA Funny Car champ John Force, suffered a concussion and bruising after the hard crash she was involved in on February 11 in the first round of eliminations of the season-opening NHRA Lucas Oil Winternationals in Pomona, California.

Shortly after leaving the starting line in a race vs. Terry Haddock, Force’s dragster crossed from the right to left lanes, impacted the retaining wall with a very hard lateral crash, bounced off, spun, went on its side and briefly caught fire after crossing the finish line wheels-up.

While she is still recovering from the bruising, Force feels strong enough to get back behind the wheel. Getting back in the race car could be the best medicine of all, since she has three runner-up finishes in Phoenix, including back-to-back second-place showings in both the 2016 and 2017 national events.

The three-day event kicks off Friday with qualifying rounds at 4 and 6:30 p.m. ET, the same times as Saturday’s qualifying. Final eliminations begin at 1 p.m. ET Sunday.