Mark Martin in for Tony Stewart
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Tony Stewart's 2013 Sprint Cup season is over, but his career isn't.
Stewart-Haas Racing officials said on Monday they expect the three-time champion to fully recover and be back in the No. 14 Chevrolet in January for preseason testing.
Meanwhile, the organization signed Mark Martin to drive in 12 of this season's final 13 races, beginning Saturday night at Bristol Motor Speedway. Austin Dillon, who replaced Stewart this past weekend at Michigan, will drive the remaining race at Talladega Superspeedway.
The deal came together quickly thanks to cooperation almost unheard of between manufacturers, sponsors and teams.
"I feel kind of amazed that we were able to get this done," said Martin, who was scheduled to drive the No. 55 Aaron's sponsored Toyota for Michael Waltrip Racing in 10 of the final 13 races. "Aaron's agreed to it. The folks from Toyota agreed to it.
"I think all the stars just lined up for this to work out because anyone along the way ... could have probably stopped this from happening. So there were so many pieces to this puzzle. It was a lot more complicated than it looked at face value."
In the end it was a win-win for all parties -- including MWR which will put Brian Vickers, who recently was announced the full-time driver of the No. 55 in 2014, in for the races Martin was scheduled.
Martin said it happened because of the industry-wide respect for Stewart, who already has missed two races after suffering a broken right tibia and fibula in an August 5 sprint car race at Southern Iowa Speedway.
"I haven't seen this much cooperation in the past, and I think it was largely in part for the incredible amount of respect that everyone has in the sport for Tony Stewart," Martin said.
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SHR competition director Greg Zipadelli said Martin was Stewart's first choice to replace him when he realized the full extent of the recovery process.
"Obviously, I'm disappointed to be out ... for so long, but the team is in very good hands with Mark Martin and Austin Dillon," Stewart said in a statement. "Mark is someone I've looked up to my entire career and I have a tremendous amount of respect for him.
"This isn't a situation anyone wanted, but we're going to make the best of it. In the meantime, my focus is on getting healthy and getting back."
Zipadelli said Stewart will be back.
"We expect a full recovery by Daytona or close to it," he said of the season-opening Daytona 500 in February. "You know, it may be able to be done earlier, it's just not worth it.
"It's a bad break to the leg, and he needs time to go through the process of healing, rehabilitation, all those things. With Mark coming on board, it gives us the window to go to the end of the year and feel like we are doing our partners the best job we can to fill Tony's shoes."
It's a bad break to the leg, and he needs time to go through the process of healing, rehabilitation, all those things. With Mark coming on board, it gives us the window to go to the end of the year and feel like we are doing our partners the best job we can to fill Tony's shoes.” -- SHR competition director Greg Zipadelli
The No. 14 is 13th in owner's points, 10 out of the top 10. With two wins it is in line to grab one of the two wild card positions for the Chase that begins Sept. 15 at Chicagoland Speedway.
But Martin, who has finished second in the driver's standings five times, said his goal isn't to win an owner's title even though he'll take it if that happens.
"My motivation for racing is not for points, it's for racing," he said. "I want to race, and I want to finish. If I'm running 20th, I'll bust my butt to run 19th.
"But I don't go into this situation rubbing my hands together saying, 'Oh, wow, this is an opportunity to race for a championship.' "
Martin said getting acclimated with a new team on such short notice will be challenging. He said to drive at the half-mile Bristol four days after the change will be "like jumping into ice-cold water."
But earlier this season on similar short notice Martin stepped into the No. 11 for the injured Denny Hamlin to finish 11th at the half-mile Martinsville Speedway.
"We're going to go into Bristol and we're going to have to do race setup, qualifying setup and qualifying all on Friday. Boom!" Martin said. "We don't get another crack at it on Saturday. We don't get another chance to think about it."
Martin came up three laps short on fuel of winning his last race in the No. 55 on Sunday at Michigan International Speedway. Team owner Michael Waltrip couldn't say enough good things about how the 54-year-old driver has helped turn around MWR.
"Mark's leadership the past two years has been so impactful that he has left a mark on this company that will be here as long as we race," Waltrip said. "This opportunity to help two Hall of Famers in Mark and Tony Stewart at the same time, while getting the opportunity to run the rest of the year with Brian makes sense for MWR."
Martin was humbled and honored that Stewart chose him to drive the 14.
"I know that Zippy's main goal is to get good, solid performance, but more than that I want to be able to bring something to the organization in stability," Martin said. "And hopefully we can turn the 14 car back over to Tony an even stronger organization than what it was when he stepped away and got injured."
Meanwhile, Zipadelli declined to specifically address a report by ESPN's Marty Smith that SHR has offered 2004 Cup champion Kurt Busch a ride in 2014.
"I mean, right now we're really focusing on Mark," Zipadelli said. "Obviously, there's options out there. We're looking at everything that's there. There is nothing done.
"Right now, like I said, we're focused on the 39 [Ryan Newman], trying to win another race to make it into the Chase and getting Mark fitted up in this car and heading to Bristol to do the best job we can."