In NASCAR racing, substitute drivers are needed because of injury, illness or even death. Sometimes, it’s one superstar filling in for another as in the case of Jeff Gordon subbing for Dale Earnhardt Jr. Following are 25 of NASCAR’s highest profile substitute drivers through the years.
25. Greg Sacks
After Robby Gordon suffered methanol burns in the Indy 500, Sacks filled in for him in Felix Sabates’ No. 40 Chevrolet. Asked if Gordon learned anything from the incident. Sabates said, “Yeah. He learned that methanol burns.” Sacks also drove for Rick Hendrick in 1990 after Darrell Waltrip crashed at Daytona. Here, Sacks celebrates after scoring his only Cup win in the Pepsi 400 at Daytona in July of 1985.
24. Wally Dallenbach Jr.
Ricky Craven had a bad crash at Texas Motor Speedway in 1998 and was replaced by Dallenbach, who drove the Budweiser-sponsored Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet for much of the rest of the year.
23. Ted Musgrave
Musgrave joined car owner Felix Sabates for the final 12 races of 2000, following the death of Kenny Irwin in a crash at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
22. Ty Dillon
The younger of the Dillon brothers drove the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet for three races earlier this year while Tony Stewart was out with a broken back.
21. David Ragan
In 2015, Ragan spent 26 races in the No. 55 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota as a replacement for Brian Vickers, who was out with blood clots. Ragan also drove the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota for nine races while Kyle Busch was sidelined.
20. Ernie Irvan
Following Davey Allison’s death in a helicopter crash at Talladega in 1993, Irvan took over the No. 28 Robert Yates Racing Ford, one of the fastest cars of its era. Irvan later needed some substitute help of his own.
19. Mark Martin
After Tony Stewart’s sprint car crash in Iowa in 2013, Martin drove the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet in 12 of the final 15 races of the year.
18. Matt Crafton
Following Kyle Busch’s crash in the season-opening NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Daytona, Crafton ran the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota in the 2015 Daytona 500.
17. Brett Moffitt
In 2015, Moffitt drove six races as a replacement for Brian Vickers in the No. 55 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota.
16. Jerry Nadeau
When Ernie Irvan’s career was cut short by a crash in 1999, Nadeau ran the final 12 races of the season in the No. 36 MB2 Motorsports Pontiac.
15. Austin Dillon
The third-generation driver was another replacement for Tony Stewart after his sprint car crash, driving two races for Stewart-Haas Racing in 2013.
14. Elliott Sadler
The popular Virginia driver piloted the No. 55 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota for four races in 2013.
13. Erik Jones
The eventual 2015 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion ran one Sprint Cup race in the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota while Kyle Busch was sidelined.
12. Sam Hornish Jr.
When a piece of metal in Denny Hamlin’s eye kept him out of the Auto Club 400 in 2014, Hornish filled in for him.
11. Max Papis
The Italian racer ran Watkins Glen in 2013, when he subbed for an injured Tony Stewart in the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet.
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