Life has a very peculiar way of helping us to expose what we are made of from the inside out. It doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a bad thing or that it should be taken the wrong way, but instead it should be looked at as more of a positive, especially when your own personal goals are involved.
Expectations along with those same personal goals always run high at the beginning of every season, and Tony Stewart was one driver who took that initiative, when he left Joe Gibbs Racing at the end of the 2008 season to take over half ownership of Haas CNC Racing.
Stewart had found success in 10 years driving for Joe Gibbs Racing by winning two championships along with 33 victories overall, but there was still that void of someday owning his own Sprint Cup team which finally became a reality for Stewart.
Stewart, who brought along with him Penske driver Ryan Newman, set his sights on making the chase for the Sprint Cup Championship, which he did while keeping his season from becoming a total loss.
Newman on the other hand left an organization that was not going in the direction that he felt was going to benefit his career, and with his contract expiring at the end of the 2008 season, the opportunity couldn’t have come at a better time to sign on with a team that would meet his own expectations.
“People ask about our expectations and our goals and we had some goals and we didn't know what the expectations were going to be.”
Newman added that, “We've done a lot of great things as an organization. We've done a lot of great things as drivers to get to where we are, and for me personally to make the big change and obviously Tony as well, didn't have any idea what to expect.”
Stewart already knew that ownership has its fair share of responsibilities, and it all starts with a good solid foundation as well as a strong commitment to want to succeed.
"It has been consistent from day one. As soon as we made the commitment that this was what we were going to do. And as soon as Darian Grubb came aboard, I think that was the biggest key in making sure that it was a smoother transition.”
So now with one race left, Stewart sits fifth in points, while his teammate Newman also made the chase for the Sprint Cup Championship while holding onto the ninth spot.
Stewart should be feeling very proud of himself even though they are both mathematically eliminated from winning the championship this season.
Stewart has always been known as a driver that does not give in to adversity, and because of that trait he was able to pick up his first win as a team owner at Pocono back in June of this season.
Stewart would add another three wins to bring his total up to four so far on the season, easily surpassing those of his fellow Chevy team owners with the exception of Hendrick Motorsports which has 13 of its own.
Stewart also led the point standings for 13 weeks before giving way to Mark Martin once the Chase started, but even surrendering that lead wasn’t enough for him to look at this season as a disappointment.
"I think it's hard to be disappointed no matter where we end up. Just by getting two cars in the Chase and winning the races we've won this year exceeded more than what any of you guys [media] could have anticipated and we could have anticipated we were able to do.”
Stewart added that, “We knew on paper that it was possible, but the reality of it was going there and competing against great race teams every week. So to be able to accomplish this goal has been an awesome year for us. It's still no different than it was when everybody talked to us after Richmond about losing a 200-point lead of whatever it was.”
Good, solid teams don’t just magically come together; instead they are carefully planned out with a lot of hard work and dedication, and all that usually comes with a lot of trial and error.
Setbacks, as well as those times when all the hard work doesn’t seem to be paying off, are all part of the building process, but in order for a team to have a chance at succeeding it must go through those growing pains.
“It just shows that we still have work to do. We were able to exceed our expectations for the year, but at the same time we won't stop at that," said Stewart.
“We'll keep pushing to be better and to try to be where the No. 48 (Jimmie Johnson) team and the No. 24 (Jeff Gordon) team and the No. 5 (Mark Martin) team and all these great race teams that we're competing against and that we're racing for points.”
Stewart Haas Racing has all the ingredients needed to become a championship caliber team in the near future, but as in life there is still a building process that must take place before greatness can be reached.
The path that Stewart has chosen for his team has already begun paying dividends, and that alone is the best way to get started in the right direction.
But only time will tell just how much character and poise this team really has when it comes down to crunch time, and that will be the time when its foundation will be put to the test.
With the 2010 season just beyond the horizon, Newman has already begun looking ahead at the team’s potential, and his outlook sounds very promising.
“Realistically just building on the relationships that we’ve got and working on the race cars. I think we have great relationships we just have to use those relationships to polish up the race cars and be ready for 2010.”