I have had some time to digest all of this change with Tony not only today, but when I first heard the rumors back on April 24, 2008. I have stated through all this time that I would remain a Tony Stewart fan no matter what team he decided to drive for in 2009 and beyond.
I read an interesting take on all of this by Joe Menzer over at NASCAR.com. He addresses of the what many of us may be asking ourselves…why? Why not? Sometimes in life you have to make that leap of faith to reach your goal. Tony has been with JGR for 10 years. I am sure both Tony and JGR would have loved for him to retire with JGR, but what Tony wanted for his career may have changed over the years. I know for one when I was younger I had certain goals I wanted to accomplish out of my life, however life got in the way and I had to make a few detours. These detours, good and bad, have put me where I am today.
I am sure this a decsion Tony weighed over for a long time. How do you leave a racing team that gave you your break into NASCAR, who you have shared two championships, and several winning seasons with? I can’t answer that or want to even begin to answer it. Tony is the only one who can answer it. Some might speculate he wasn’t happy with JGR’s decision to switch from Chevy to Toyota was the deciding factor. I don’t think so. Tony is looking beyond the time when he will no longer be racing. All athletes regardless of their sport have to look beyond their playing years.
It’s not like Tony is going into this blindly. He currently owns several race teams as well as Eldora Speedway. If one wants to question his skills as an owner, you need to stop and look how Eldora has flourished over the last several years especially with regards to The Prelude. He was out there nursing his “baby” making sure it was ready for racing the day of The Prelude this year. He makes sure every aspect of the event and track are taken care of. He understands what it takes to be a promotor and owner.
I hate the fact that I have read on a couple of fan forum sites of how some people think this is going to be like Michael Waltrip. I don’t see it that way. This is an established team. Tony will have 50% ownership in the team. He has exerperience as a racing team owner. Tony is a proven winner. I am not saying Michael Waltrip’s venture into team ownership has been a failure, but I don’t believe Tony will not have the mountains to climb as Michael did. Tony will surround himself with people who will get the job done. And if he needs some advice on owning a premier racing team he only has to look at his good friends Kevin and Delana Harvick, or the Pettys, or AJ Foyt.
There is still quite a bit of work for Stewart Haas Racing to get accomplish before the start of the 2009 season. First off, who will be the other driver for the team? Rumors have it Ryan Newman may be a possible choice, but as with anything in NASCAR nothing is certain until it has been officially announced. Whatever comes down the road for Stewart Haas Racing, this fan will be there cheering him on along with my new t-shirt I will definitely be purchasing in the near future.