While Tony Stewart prepares for this weekend's NASCAR action at the Chicagoland Speedway, he took time to meet with the media on hand for Thursday's Nationwide and Sprint Cup series on-track activities. The formal press conference was held to ...
While Tony Stewart prepares for this weekend's NASCAR action at the Chicagoland Speedway, he took time to meet with the media on hand for Thursday's Nationwide and Sprint Cup series on-track activities. The formal press conference was held to confirm his ownership of a Cup team, beginning with the 2009 racing season.
With the news breaking yesterday that the two-time NASCAR Cup champion is leaving Joe Gibbs Racing at the end of the 2008 season, today (July 10) was the day that Stewart gave an insight to his reasons for the change and the newly announce Stewart-Haas Racing team's future plans.
"This is an incredible opportunity that allows me to race competitively in NASCAR's top division while carving out a place in this sport long after my driving career is over," Stewart said. "I've won races and I've won championships and I know I could've continued to do that at Joe Gibbs Racing, but to attempt to do those things as a car owner is something that really appeals to me. There's a whole new sense of appreciation and satisfaction that comes with success when you're both a driver and an owner."
Stewart will continue to challenge for the 2008 title with the J.D. Gibbs ran team, driving the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota. Next year, his loyal fans will see him back in a Chevrolet driving for his own team.
"Tony Stewart is a proven champion, on the track and off," said Joe Custer, Haas CNC Racing's general manager. "He brings a track record of success to an organization owned by the world's largest machine tool manufacturer. And while Haas Automation has enjoyed great success in the marketplace, our racing operation has yet to achieve the same kind of success. Tony Stewart is a racer with a keen business sense, and we're proud and excited to have him as a key partner of our team."
Stewart also conveyed an optimistic tune towards the media and fans about how short the transitioning period will be for the new team. "Stewart-Haas Racing will have everything it needs to be successful," Stewart said. "The equipment is there to win races next year and in the years to come. I look forward to being an integral part of growing this team into a contender." Stewart's words echoed former Haas CNC driver Jeremy Mayfield from earlier in the year after he was released from the team.
Haas CNC Racing operates out of a 140,000-square foot shop in Concord, N.C., and is owned by Oxnard, Calif.-based Haas Automation Inc. The company has been involved with motorsports since 1995 through various technical partnerships with teams in the IRL IndyCar Series and NASCAR, including Hendrick Motorsports, which will continue to provide chassis, engines and technical support to Stewart-Haas Racing.
Speculation is they will either keep the No.'s 66 and 70 or move to the legendary 14 for the second car and Stewart driving the No. 02 which reflects his former number, the No. 20.
Ryan Newman looks to be a shoe-in for Stewart's second car but it is possible that Brad Keselowski could be his way into the Cup series next year. Although it is a far stretch, Keselowski is out a ride next year with Jr. Motorsports. Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Tony Stewart are great friends and it might be a surprise move for 2008, although Newman is much more marketable and proven on the track then Keselowski.
A major question to answer is what will Stewart-Haas Racing do if one of their cars doesn't get back into the top-35 by seasons end. It is also possible that Michael Waltrip Racing could sell one of their cars owner points to Stewart-Haas for 2009 if Michael McDowell (who is rumored to be heading to Penske) or David Reutimann (who might be heading to Petty Enterprises next year) leave the team at the end of this season.
We should also expect to see Home Depot, Burger King, Old Spice, and Office Depot with Stewart-Haas in 2009 and possibly Jack Daniels splitting time with Burger King as the primary sponsor on SHR's second car.
News regarding sponsors of Stewart-Haas Racing, as well as the complete driver lineup and corresponding car numbers for the two-car team, will be announced officially at a later date.