Stewart might succeed where others have failed
The domino finally fell. The much-anticipated announcement by Tony Stewart that he would leave Joe Gibbs Racing at the end of this season came this week. Like we didn’t know; it was the world’s worst kept secret. Stewart leaves after 10 years in the Home Depot car for ownership in the newly formed Stewart-Haas Racing.
There are lots of reasons Stewart made this move. At the top of the list has to be the reunion with Chevrolet. Ever since JGR made the announcement of the move to Toyota last fall, there have been whispers that Chevrolet would do whatever it took to get Smoke back into their brand. Evidently, they put their money where their mouth is because it has been reported that Chevrolet footed the bill to buy Stewart out of his last contract year with Gibbs. Stewart’s ties with Chevy run deep.
Through recent years, owner-drivers have not always been successful. Look at Darrell Waltrip in the latter part of his career in the No. 17 Western Auto car. How about DW’s little brother? Michael Waltrip has not exactly set the woods on fire since forming his own team last season. Robby Gordon survives as a one-car operation, but just barely.
I think Stewart’s deal will be different. First, because he is going to an established team with established facilities. Some say that Haas’ facilities and equipment rival any team in NASCAR. Second, Stewart will surround himself with quality people and a quality teammate. Third, Stewart is simply a better driver than those mentioned above.
So, what’s next? Whispers have become shouts that Ryan Newman will leave Penske South to join Stewart. I think it is safe to assume that this will happen. Newman has been dropping hints like bombs, and he will be in the second Stewart-Haas car. Office Depot and Old Spice have been most often mentioned as sponsors for Stewart’s ride. A car number has yet to be announced.
As for Gibbs, I think it is a lock that Joey Logano will take over in the Home Depot car next season. This young guy, nicknamed Sliced Bread, will either be the next superstar or the biggest bust in the history of sports.
We have another Saturday night race this week as we go under the lights at Chicagoland Speedway. Look for Carl Edwards to visit victory lane for the fourth time this season.