Sprint Unlimited: Substitute
and alternate driver report
Photo by Sarah Crabill/NASCAR via Getty Images
The 25 starters for Saturday night's Sprint Unlimited are introduced during pre-race ceremonies at
Daytona International Speedway.
Three drivers eligible for the 2016 Sprint Unlimited did not race in Saturday night’s event at Daytona International Speedway. Two alternates and one substitute driver joined the 25-car field. Below is a breakdown of how each driver did.
No. 13 Casey Mears
Saturday night’s race marked Mears’ second consecutive start in the Sprint Unlimited. His overall fifth appearance in the exhibition race featured his best career starting position in the event.
Mears was involved in two accidents; one on lap 45 with Jimmie Johnson, the race’s third caution and was one of five cars involved in the sixth caution, the last caution in the scheduled distance.
Mears would finish fifth; the best of the three drivers and second straight top-five finish in the event.
“I think everybody’s got ‘what if’s’ tied into this race,” Mears said
post-race. “It was pretty crazy. But it was fun and it feels really good to be
back at Daytona and back in the car again.
“The off-season is short. But at the same time, you’re really looking forward to getting back in the car. We came out fairly okay and we got in that one crash and caught that last caution and we were able to rebound. I’m proud of everyone.
“This is a good start and now we’ll get ready for the 500.”
Brian Vickers races alongside Kevin Harvick and Matt Kenseth during the 2016 Sprint Unlimited.
Filling in for the sidelined Tony Stewart, Vickers started 18th in the Mobil 1 Chevrolet. Saturday night was his sixth appearance in the race and first since 2010.
Vickers’ race lasted 22 laps. A turn one spin by the interim driver resulted in a seven car accident.
Vickers finished 24th.
“It’s unfortunate, I think we just cut a right-rear tire,” Vickers said of the incident. “I don’t know how we cut it yet. The 2 and I were kind of getting together a little bit down the straightaway.
“We had a little contact with the 18 early on, and maybe he got into the tire, I’m not sure, but I felt it going down the straightaway, and at that point, I started to roll out. You’re going 200 miles an hour, there’s nothing you can do.
“It’s such an honor to be in this car. I hate that I’m in this car, because it means Tony Stewart, a dear friend and someone that I have so much respect for, is sitting at home, but, it was an honor to fill the seat, and the big focus is going to be the Daytona 500.”
No. 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Saturday night marked Stenhouse’s third consecutive appearance in the Sprint Unlimited.
Stenhouse, who started 11th, collected damage during the race’s first caution period, a two-car incident with Denny Hamlin.
Stenhouse restarted seventh on the final restart of the race, the only overtime period. Stenhouse finished sixth.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr.