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.
Once again it’s a two for one day here in The Park.
Postman noticed an article on ESPN.com last night and proceeded to share it with me. I mean I give him credit, he does know how to keep me informed about my driver. According to this article over at ESPN.com, multiple sources have said that Tony is looking for car sponsorhsips for his potential move to Haas CNC. And another soucre close to the situation have Ryan Newman tagged as a possible second driver. It seems Office Depot and Old Spice have moved to the top of the sponsor leader board. If this is all true as sources close to the situation have stated, then this fan will definitely go into debt supporting the Office Depot sponsor. Next to NASCAR, office supplies are my other addiction. Some people like to shop for shoes, clothes, etc…not me…put me in an office supply store and I am happy for hours. One of my fellow workers even crowned me the “Office Supply Whore”. So my main addiction NASCAR would certainly feed the other, slightly small-less annoying, addiction. I mean I would have to support my driver’s sponsor which ultimately may leave me broke and standing on a corner looking for my next office supply hit.
As we have heard for pretty much the last few months, Tony may or may not be moving to another team after the 2008 season. We know his contract with JGR runs through 2009. We know JGR wants to try to keep Tony behind the 2009 season and perhaps would like for him to retire there. We also know Tony is intereested in becoming a car owner. Other than that, that’s all I want to know at this point in the season.
Has all of this talk of moving from JGR had an effect on his performance? I don’t know. I am sure it has some a little. Uncertanity within a team can perhaps create some ill feelings among crew members. I am not close to the situation so I could speculate on anything they may be occuring over at JGR. I do know when you have someone who is leaving your workplace for other pastures, it is sometimes hard to be positive and upbeat knowing they will not be around to celebrate the fruits of your labor.
I always have to chuckle when reporters use the phrase “according to multiple sources close to the situation”. I know this something that occurs quite often in reporting. But until I hear the words from Tony Stewart himself, and to be honest he is the closest to the situation, I will assume Tony is staying at JGR for next season.
I believe once Tony decides on what he wants to do with his future, everything else will fall into place with all the other rumors, half-truths and conspiracies. Plus no matter what Tony decides for his future, it is his to make and this fan will follow whereever he might land.
One last thing…I want you to know I gave it the “old college try” on Monday. I honestly tried to sit down and watch “Talladega Nights”. I did. I sat threw the first 30 minutes or so of the movie. I went into this watching experience with an open mind and I came to one conclusion…THAT’S 30 MINUTES OF MY LIFE I CAN’T GET BACK!
To all you Stewart fans out there don’t panic…as of yet. While driving home yesterday, I caught the tail end of this story on Sirius Speedway so I decided to check it further.
Of course as always I head on over to Jayski’s to find out more information regarding this news tidbit. I just wanted to check things out to see what other details are available. According to Sports Illustrated, Tony may be shopping for another team, more specifically Haas CNC, next year. According to the “sources” close to the situation, he would be given the opportunity to have some percentage of ownership with the team. However, Tony’s PR man Mike Arning was very, shall we say for argument sakes, avoiding the matter at hand. According to Arning, Tony is with JGR the rest of this year and next year. He has a contract with JGR through 2009. And plus JGR is interested in signing Tony beyond the 2009 season. JGR wants Tony to retire with them.
We all know that if a driver wants to be release from his contract with his current team it can happen. I mean all you have to do is look Jamie McMurray and Kurt Busch. So if Tony wanted out of his contract, say at the end of this year, it might could happen. You never know what really goes on behind closed doors. I mean look at the Busch/Earnhardt deal from last year. I think I recall at one time Rick Hendrick stated he was not interested in Earnhardt, but yet who is Earnhardt driving for this year?
Would this be a good move for Tony? I really don’t know. If he were to move to Haas CNC, he would be given the opportunity to be partial car owner of Cup team. He would return to driving a Chevy which has been the only manufacturer he has driven for until this year. Tony’s open wheel sprint car teams drive GM products. HMS does provide the motors to Haas CNC. However, Haas CNC has not been tearing up the circuti these days. The #66 is currently 28th in the driver and owner standings, while the #70 is outside the top 35. The #70 has had a revolving door of drivers this season. Jeremey Mayfield started out the season as the driver for the car, but was released on April 8. Immediately Johnny Sauter was hired to drive the #70 at Phoenix. Oh by the way, Sauter was the previous driver of the #70, but was let go and replaced by Mayfield . It was announced yesterday that Max Papis will race the road races this season and Ken Schrader will drive it this weekend.
I think is going to one of those news items that has some meat to it. I guess we will just have to wait and see.