NASCAR: Tony Stewart in For a Rough Ride as Owner
News broke last night that Tony Stewart and Joe Gibbs Racing have agreed to part ways at the end of the 2008 season. Stewart will head to Haas/CNC racing, where he will own half of the team.
Stewart has always wanted to own a Nascar Sprint Cup team. He currently owns a World of Outlaws team, and the Eldora Speedway in Ohio.
It is likely that both Scott Riggs and the myriad of drivers that race in the 70 car will also be released after this year.
Office Depot has agreed to sponsor one of Stewart's cars, while other sponsors are currently in negotiations with him. Martin Truex Jr. and Ryan Newman are currently the front runners to join Stewart at his new team.
While this is Stewart's dream come true, it could also be more of a nightmare for Stewart in his first year as an owner. Why is this? Just take a look at the history of the dismal racing organization known as Haas CNC Racing.
In the five years that Haas/CNC Racing has been in existence in the Sprint Cup Series, the team has used more than 10 drivers to pilot their cars (If you can name the drivers, you know your NASCAR).
The team looked to former truck champions, the nephew of an Indy car legend, road racing veterans, and a Daytona 500 winner to jump start the team and still nothing good came out of it.
The organization has 11 top-five finishes since starting their first race. The best finish the organization has gotten is a fifth by Johnny Sauter last year at Richmond.
Even though both teams started showing improvements last year, it was announced the drivers, Jeff Green and Johnny Sauter, would be released for replacements Scott Riggs and Jeremy Mayfield. Mayfield lasted seven races this year, and Riggs has starting displaying a "Will Drive for Food" sign after last night's reports.
Needless to say, Tony Stewart better put on a janitors outfit and start cleaning house.
Stewart is one the best drivers on the circuit today, but he is going to have his hands full his first year. If Stewart thinks Haas/CNC will be a contender next year, he needs wake up from his sleep.
This isn't like Eldora Speedway, where you bring in some good dirt, paint some walls, have the Prelude to a Dream and say Voila! This is a racing organization.
Haas CNC has started going down a slippery slope, missing races and having terrible finishes. Drivers do make a big difference, especially when they find the right team (See: Kyle Busch/Dale Jr. in 2008).
But these days, drivers are only a piece of the proverbial NASCAR puzzle. What makes a team successful? You have to have talented personnel, good parts, and good sponsors to be successful.
If Greg Zippadeli decides to follow his longtime friend, then there is a possibility Smoke has a chance of making the Chase. Otherwise, Tony Stewart had better strap in, hold on tight and get ready for the tumultuous ride that is NASCAR ownership.
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