Tag:Tony Stewart
Posted on: August 15, 2008 3:42 pm

Hoosier Teammate?

BROOKLYN, MICH. - The worst secret in the NASCAR garage area became official Friday with the introduction of Ryan Newman as Tony Stewart's teammate in the new Stewart-Haas Racing venture.

The Indiana natives may seem different personality-wise and their public personas are nearly polar opposites. Stewart is the fiery and sometimes controversial spokesperson for the sport who opens his mouth more often than not before engaging his brain. Newman is more introspective and technical, characteristics one would expect from a Purdue University engineering major.

But deep down the duo is very much alike. Both grew up in the Hoosier state, dreaming about racing in the Indianapolis 500. They each worked their way up through the weekly short tracks of the Midwest before graduating to USAC competition in the midgets, sprints and Silver Crown divisions.

Stewart did make his way to Indy Car racing and the IRL, fulfilling his 500 dream, before heading south to try his hand at NASCAR. Newman skipped the Indy Car stop and went from USAC directly to stock car racing.

Each is a driven individual with a burning desire to win. Stewart was able to experience much of that with Joe Gibbs Racing including a couple of championships. Newman's tenure with Penske Racing had its moments, including a Daytona 500 victory.

However overall the pair felt they were missing something in their current situations and their paths came together in this new organization.

In addition to succeeding on track, winning races and hopefully titles, there was another goal mentioned in Friday's announcement here at Michigan.

"I told Tony, 'I'm here to have fun with you' and I know he wants to have fun doing this," said Newman.

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"That is what racing hasn't been a lot of for me lately just because we had success in 2002, 2003 and part of '04 and, lately, it hasn’t been as successful.

"Therefore, some of the fun has been gone with that."

Winning will take care of having fun, no doubt about it.

The question is, how long will it take?


Category: Auto Racing
Posted on: July 26, 2008 11:07 am

Back Home Again in Indiana

INDIANAPOLIS - Tony Stewart can be the poster boy for mood swings. But when the NASCAR world rolls into Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Stewart is about as happy as he can possibly be.

This place always stirs childhood memories for of Stewart, who grew up on the shadows of the track, who still admits he gets chills today whenever he drives into the massive stadium at 16th and Georgetown.

He never achieved his dream of winning the Indy 500, although he did come close during his tenure as a full-time open wheel driver. But he did finally get to kiss the bricks when he won the Brickyard 400 in 2005 and then followed that up when he planted another wet one on the frontstretch after last year's victory.

Stewart officially unveiled his car number and sponsors for the 2009 Stewart-Haas entry he'll pilot as part of his new owner-driver role. He'll carry the number 14, the same digits made famous by Stewart's boyhood idol A.J. Foyt.

While no word on who will team with Stewart in the operations's No. 4 entry in 2009, another Indiana native Ryan Newman continues to be the leading contender.

Newman, who still contends he asked Roger Penske for his release despite claims from former teammate and ESPN analyst he was let go ("Was he conscious when he said that?" Newman asked) is the perfect fit for the new Stewart team - a pair of Hoosiers who haven't forgotten their roots.

If Stewart can pull off a third Brickyard win Sunday in his final appearance here for Joe Gibbs Racing, his good mood justy might carry over to next week's trip to Pocono.



Pete Pistone





Category: Auto Racing
Tags: Tony Stewart
Posted on: July 9, 2008 2:20 pm

Smoke Signals

The first part of what most everyone had known for weeks became official on Wednesday when Joe Gibbs Racing announced it would release Tony Stewart from the final year of his contract in 2009.

Part two will come Thursday in the media center at Chicagoland Speedway when Stewart lays out plans for his move to Haas-CNC Racing as an owner-driver.

While I don't think we'll get all the details on Thursday, such as a teammate (rumored strongly to be Ryan Newman) or sponsors (most likely Office Depot, Old Spice and Jack Daniels for the two-car tandem), Stewart will map out his plan to succeed in an area that may be one of the toughest feats in racing to pull off - driving for and owning a race team.

Hopefully Stewart has spent some time with Michael Waltrip and Robby Gordon, the current owner-operators in the Sprint Cup Series garage. He can also get some wisdom from former drivers who have gone the ownership route including Ricky Rudd, Darrell Waltrip and even "The King," Richard Petty.

Stewart as we know is not known for being patient when it comes to uncompetitive cars. He's taking on a tall order turning the until-now mediocre at best Haas-CNC stable into a winner overnight. True having Stewart and Newman as drivers is certainly an upgrade from Scott Riggs and Johnny Sauter, with all due respect to those two pilots. Bringing in big time sponsors will give the team the needed resources to at least try and keep up with the powerhouse squads at Roush, RCR, Hendrick and JGR. And with Chevrolet clearly in his corner, as well as a satellite engine program with Hendrick, Stewart's new-look team will certainly have muscle behind it.

But in the current world of Sprint Cup racing, there is no time for ramping up. When the bell rings at Daytona next February, Stewart and company have to be ready to not just be on track but run competitively or face the prospects of the downward spiral a team like Waltrip's endures, missing races and dropping further behind in the standings.

Stewart has a champion's provisional in his pocket which will ensure he'll at least be in the field. While I don't think he'll need it too often, he must sleep better at night at least knowing that qualifying day won't be quite as stomach-turning as it could be for a new team.

Stewart has shown he can be a successful owner in the world of short track racing and runs strong programs in both the World of Outlaws and USAC. Maybe some of that experience will help his fledgling Cup operation.

But it will be a challenge and also a strange sight to see Stewart behind the wheel of anything but a Home Depot-sponsored car.

Things change at a pretty fast pace these days in NASCAR-land. Here's hoping Stewart can keep up.

Category: Auto Racing
Tags: Tony Stewart
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