NASCAR Teams: It's the Economy, Stewart

Dwight Drum@@racetakeCorrespondent IIIJuly 9, 2010

Now, some out there might think the title to this article referred to known mental deficiencies, but that’s far from the case. This week, Tony Stewart noted the importance of the economy, and school as well, when addressing the media. Some might be surprised by his comments.

“I would say there's probably a zero percent chance we'll expand to a third team for next year,” Stewart said. 

It’s no secret that a sputtering, stagnant economy with job shortages has created sponsor exits and cutbacks for motorsports.

Sponsors have to get value for their dollars, but when they must cut back, the racing budget seems easy to trim. Also, some companies that want to continue sponsorships simply can’t sustain it because of revenue losses. Some sponsors have shut down operations.

“We're still trying to fill the void when Old Spice changes this year,” Stewart said. “We're talking to a lot of great people. There's a lot of good opportunities out there. It's just a matter of finding a package that works for somebody to fill our spot. 

“The hard part about it is, it just takes funding. We could be up to a four-car team very quickly. But it takes the funding to get it done.”

In another question from the media about his SHR team, Stewart expanded his thoughts on the money aspect of racing at the top level.

“The hardest thing right now is the economy,” Stewart added. “It takes a lot of money to fund these teams. The hardest part is generating and raising the funds that you need to run these multi-million dollar race teams. It's a very costly sport. It takes a lot of funding to do that. That seems to be the hardest part, is just finding the funds to do everything we need to do.”

This weekend, Stewart will have a back-to-school paint scheme on his No. 14 Office Depot Chevrolet and participate in an Office Depot backpack giveaway program. Eventually, Stewart will help to donate 300,000 backpacks to kids in need across the country.

His involvement in the school program brought questions about his schooling days.

“I wasn’t the best student,” Stewart said. “I didn’t get the best of grades, but it was because I didn’t apply myself. From the time I was eight on, I wanted to be a race car driver. I didn’t understand how important school was at the time.”

One thing no one should doubt is Stewart’s intelligence. Stewart is quite capable of matching his racing smarts against any competitor on the track, and he’s just as mentally capable when answering questions from probing media. More than one bright reporter has felt the sting of his occasional scathing answer at a press conference.

“I liked all of my math classes,” Stewart said. “In high school, I liked physics and geometry. After graduating high school and moving on, you realize how much you use all of that in racing. Those three subjects were very important and still are.”

The No. 14 Chevrolet had a back-to-school theme last year also.

“After we did the back to school car last year,” Stewart said, “seeing how many kids actually brought them to autograph sessions throughout the remainder of the year was a pretty good indication of how popular it was.”

Fans might not suspect the besides being a fierce driver on the track, a very smart Stewart understands the economy as well the importance of school.

Photo credit: (c) 2010 Dwight Drum @ Racetake.com


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