Is Tony Stewart Following the Coattails of Michael Waltrip?

Geoff MoserContributor IJuly 25, 2008

As Tony Stewart sluggishly finishes up his last season in the No. 20 car of Joe Gibbs Racing to embark on a new challenge as team owner and first driver, you can't help but think of Michael Waltrip just a bit.

Sure, Waltrip was the guinea pig for Toyota Racing, and he took a lot of heat for it, but now as Toyota is beginning to show what a force they are in Stock Car racing, Stewart decides he's going back to his roots with Chevrolet.

I understand that it's a great opportunity to be part owner of your own Cup race team, but at what cost?

Now he has to take a second-rate team with inferior equipment and build a champion, and do so with a manufacturer who is falling behind the pace of Toyota and the boys at Roush. 

I really hope Tony succeeds in this venture, but as a guy who's never been the friendliest with the media, he's not only a driver, but also the face of an entire organization. In a struggling economy, you better believe those sponsors are watching closely. 

Although Tony's growth and maturity have undoubtedly progressed in the last few years, I worry that the old Tony will show up when he's fighting to stay in 35th rather than first place.