NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion Tony Stewart Talks Chase and Darian Grubb

Sandra MacWattersCorrespondent INovember 23, 2011

CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 24: Darian Grubb (R), crew chief for Tony Stewart (L), driver of the #14 Office Depot Chevrolet, speaks to the media during the NASCAR Sprint Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway, held at Stewart-Haas Racing on January 24, 2011 in Concord, North Carolina. (Photo by Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Jason Smith/Getty Images

The crew chief for our newest NASCAR Sprint Cup champion, Tony Stewart, was pivotal in getting his driver to Victory Lane in half the Chase races, yet Darian Grubb faced termination after the race at Homestead.

It is indeed an odd twist of fate to celebrate the winning of a Cup title with your team and then part ways to seek opportunity elsewhere.

Stewart likely would not have won the championship if it wasn't for what he described as a "gutsy" call by Grubb to keep him on the track 12 extra laps to conserve fuel so they would only need one more stop.

Stewart said Grubb was "thinking outside the box" and he didn't question the call because he knew his crew chief had a strategy, and it ended up being the "winning call."

The driver of the No. 14 stated, "The hard part is you don't know how much you need to save, you literally try to save every bit that you can because of that."

Stewart added, "I am glad we were able to do our part behind the wheel and execute it."

Grubb knew early in the Chase that he would likely be leaving Stewart Haas Racing at the conclusion of this season, yet it never impeded the way he performed or affected the heart of the team.

The new Sprint Cup champion was whisked away for a flight after the race and won't get to return to see his team until Wednesday.

Stewart gives Grubb immense credit for making Stewart Haas Racing what it is and said, "I think the world of Darian."

HOMESTEAD, FL - NOVEMBER 21:  Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet, poses with the Championship trophy after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford 400 and the 2011 Series Championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 2
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

The owner/driver of the No. 14 Chevrolet stated, "Anytime you think about the possibility of him not being in the organization, there is a lot of emotion involved in that."

Stewart has been without a competition director for a good part of this season and filling that position at SHR is a priority to be addressed.

There will be a complete evaluation of the season and the Chase, and time will be taken to sit down and evaluate all the variables in the equation and the options that have been presented.

It may not be a given that Grubb is out at the organization, and then he may want to explore opportunities elsewhere. There is no shortage of owners and teams that will want to talk with him.

When Stewart was asked if Greg Zipadelli might become part of SHR, he deferred that decision to the man who is the current crew chief for Joey Logano at Joe Gibbs Racing.

Stewart and "Zippy" had a lengthy relationship at JGR when he was the crew chief for Stewart. The duo won two Cup titles, 2002 and 2005.

There is little doubt that given the chance to have Zipadelli become part of SHR, Stewart would be pleased to work with him once again.

For the time being, there is no indication that Zipadelli is going to be released from his contract at Joe Gibbs Racing.

Steve Addington, the crew chief for Kurt Busch at Penske Racing, will not return next season. Addington is certainly another potential future employee at Stewart Haas Racing.

Many decisions have to be made and Stewart will not rush into anything until he is sure it will make his organization stronger and even more competitive in 2012.

So, though it appeared as if the crew chief who guided Stewart to his third NASCAR Sprint Cup title in grand style may be gone from the organization, perhaps that won't be the case.

Stewart and some 160 people associated with SHR will be his guests in Las Vegas for Champions Week and the Awards Banquet, so rest assured, a good time will be had by all.

The decisions for the future will temporarily take a back seat to the well-earned celebration Stewart is entitled to after an incredible run in the Chase and his winning of the third Cup title that elevates him to a select group of drivers who have done so.

Quotes in this article were obtained directly from the source by the writer via a telephone interview. 

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