July 09, 2008
Another of racing worst kept secrets has been publicly revealed, as the news of what most of us in the NASCAR media pool have known for several months, that Tony Stewart would be leaving Joe Gibbs Racing to buy into Haas/CNC, will be announced on Wednesday.
There are several reasons Stewart is making such a move, first and foremost among them is to secure his future as a mover and shaker in the sport he so dearly loves and that has made him a millionaire many times over.
Far down the list of reasons is to win races. Stewart fans will have to embrace the fact that unless he can pull a rabbit out of his hat, Stewart probably won't be visiting a winner's circle anytime soon. JGR will be giving him junk from here on out - If you think his stuff will be just as good as the stuff kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin will get, think again. It doesn't work that way in the real world - and winning next year for his new team will be a stretch.
Despite the planned alliance he'll have with with Hendrick Motorsports next season, which sources in the Cup garage say will supply engines, technology and who knows what other kind of support for the new Tony Stewart Racing entity, history and the natural course of building a race team dictates it will take time for things to jell. You just don't start a new team and win races, not at this level.
Don't kid yourself - when Stewart comes on board, this will be a new race team.
Stewart will eventually find success, unlike Michael Waltrip and Robby Gordon. Stewart is a saavy businessman, who has shown he can make the kind of tough, yet smart decisions necessary to move things forward, whether it be with his race teams, his race tracks or his public relations firm. Plus, the name Stewart will be far more attractive to potential sponsors than either of the previously mentioned drivers who have attempted to become team owners.
Look for more Procter & Gamble brands like Old Spice to get involved with Stewart's team. Might we see another Tide car in the future?
The move by Stewart will also bring the All-American kid from Indiana back into the Chevrolet fold, something both he and the manufacturer have got to be happy about, especially at a time when American auto makers are taking a huge hit financially.
Stewart may or may not have a direct impact on Chevy's bottom line, but just the idea of having Stewart back behind the wheel of an Impala is reason enough for some people to run right out and buy one – or at least a Chevy pickup.
As for Joe Gibbs Racing, they have gotten the better half of this deal. In agreeing to allow Stewart to buy his way out of his contract (it had nothing to do with a release), the organization now turns the page on the Stewart chapter of its existence and moves into the Busch/Hamlin/Logano era. Yes, Logano as in Joey Logano. The kid is just that good, as long as he's in Gibbs quality stuff.
And with Greg Zipadelli as his crew chief, I expect that next year we'll be hearing Zippy making comparisons between Logano and Stewart – a younger Stewart.
I have been waiting for this deal to be announced for some time now. It is the first of many dominoes to fall.
Soon after Stewart announces the details of his deal, expect an announcement by Ryan Newman to join him.
Then, an announcement as to who will fill the seat of the fourth car at Richard Childress Racing. It had been rumored to be Casey Mears, but now there might be a few more options available for Childress. We'll know within weeks, by mid-August at the latest, according to Childress.
Look for David Reutimann to be announced soon as the replacement for Kyle Petty in the 45 car, something the Petty folks would rather we not know about just yet.
There's still the issue of a replacement for Newman at Penske, also rumored to be Mears, but I hear Michael McDowell could be in play there as he's somehow lost favor with the Michael Waltrip folks.
Look for the defection of Martin Truex Jr. to any team willing to pay him anything close to the reported huge contract he is looking for now that some genius at DEI decided that they could slip a trick car past the NASCAR inspectors. It's been whispered in the Cup garage that someone alerted the inspectors so that Truex would conveniently have an excuse to leave the team.
Thanks, Tony, for finally writing that big check to Coach Gibbs, one that was reportedly written with some outside help, and for throwing out that first pitch so that the game can begin.
And thanks for the memories of all those wins in the Home Depot car.
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