Joe Gibbs Racing Shaking It Up

Corey DonkersgoedCorrespondent IJuly 9, 2008

The rumors have been around for some time now, and they appear to be true.  Tony Stewart will be leaving JGR after this season to become owner/driver of Haas CNC Racing.  With the move, Stewart will acquire a 50 percent share of the team and it will be renamed Stewart Haas Racing.

In order for this change, Stewart had to be released from his contract with JGR, which ran through the 2009 Sprint Cup season.  JGR has agreed to let Stewart out of the final year of his contract, allowing him the opportunity to switch teams for next year.

Early speculation is that Stewart will drive the No. 14 car.  It is unlikely that JGR will release the No. 20 as well as the Home Depot sponsorship for Stewart.  The significance behind the No. 14 is that Stewart was a huge fan of AJ Foyt, whose car number was also 14.  Although this isn't set in stone, it seems to be the early favorite.

The primary sponsor will most likely be Office Depot, who currently is the primary sponsor for fellow Sprint Cup driver Carl Edwards in the No. 99 Ford Fusion.  For Edwards, it will mean a new sponsor, and it will most likely be time to cue the duck.

That's right, Carl Edwards' primary '09 sponsor will most likely be Aflac.  He has driven with the Aflac paint scheme for select races this year, and there is little doubt that that paint scheme will change for next year. 

For JGR, the time is now to find a driver for the No. 20 next year.  Early reports say that the ride will go to Nationwide Series rookie Joey Logano's.  However, those reports are not confirmed and JD Gibbs, President of JGR, says the team is weighing its options right now, with a decision on a driver nowhere in sight at this moment. 

If it will indeed be Joey Logano, this would certainly help JGR's image.  JGR has been known as one of the most hated teams in NASCAR, with arrogant and hypocritical driver Stewart, short-tempered Denny Hamlin, and Kyle Busch who is about as cocky as they come on the race track.

This would also make JGR one of the youngest multi-car teams in NASCAR.  Logano is 18, Hamlin will be 28 on November 11, and Kyle Busch is 23.