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« 2008 Review/ 2009 Preview: David Stremme | Main | Let’s play the new NASCAR game, “How long before…” »

2008 Review/ 2009 Preview: Tony Stewart

By admin | January 11, 2009

 By Richard Allen

 

Over the next few days and weeks I will be presenting a review of 2008 and a preview of 2009 for each of the drivers and teams who appear to be set for a full time run in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. For the most part these pieces will run in order by car number. If you should miss out on your favorite driver simply type his name into the search box at the upper right hand portion of the website.

#14- Tony Stewart

 

Of all the most intriguing on track stories going into 2009, Tony Stewart’s could be the most interesting.

Stewart left one of the most successful racing teams in NASCAR and has split up one of the best pairings in motor sports history. Stewart won 33 races and two Sprint Cup championships while driving for Joe Gibbs Racing. He is one of the recognizable faces to be associated with a sponsor. That is, of course, his now former sponsor, Home Depot.

Now, ‘Smoke’ will be starting over with his own team, or at least partially his own team.

Whether or not Stewart can drive is not a question. He is one of the few drivers who is a legitimate threat to win on every type track the circuit competes on. What is a question, however, is whether or not his new team will be able to provide equipment to match his ability as a driver.

In 2008, Stewart won in Talladega for the first time. Along with that one win he had 10 Top 5s and 16 Top 10s on his way to qualifying for the Chase for the Championship. He was part of what turned into the JGR Chase debacle as he finished 9th in the final standings.

In 2009 Stewart will drive the car that formerly wore #70. The car did not place in the Top 35 last year so the team will have to rely on their driver’s past champion provisional in the season’s first five races should there be any problems in qualifying.

Stewart will have Darien Grubb calling the shots on the pit box this season. Grubb comes over from the Hendrick Motorsports organization, which is where Stewart Hass will get their chasis and engine components from.

In recent years, owner/drivers have struggled. Ricky Rudd had to give up on owning his own team and went back to driving for other owners. Michael Waltrip had a particularly rocky first season as an owner but did show some improvement in his second year.

Stewart has many obligations. He is a team owner. He is a track owner and promoter. And, he is a driver. Will he be able to focus enough of his attention on driving? The answer will be interesting.

Driver: Tony Stewart

Car: #14

Owner: Stewart Haas Racing

Sponsor: Office Depot, Old Spice & Burger King

Manufacturer: Chevrolet

Crew Chief: Darien Grubb

Scanner Frequencies(?): 466.5000 & 469.1375

Chances of making the Chase for the Championship: I don’t think so

Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.

Topics: Articles |

One Response to “2008 Review/ 2009 Preview: Tony Stewart”

  1. Canadian Fan Says:
    January 13th, 2009 at 9:17 am

    I think you’ve overlooking a few BIG differences between Stewart and the other driver-owners you’ve mentioned:

    1. None of these guys had the support, both economically (sponsors and Chevy money) or technically (Hendrick engines, chassises etc. and former HMS guy, Darien Grubb as Crew Chief) that Smoke has.

    2. Smoke has the sense to build a team around people. He has been successful in ownership in USAC and WOO, as well as with Eldora, because of this and he’s smarter than he may let on.

    3. None of the guys you mentioned have the driving ability that Smoke has. He’s won championships in many different series, running many different types of cars and is a threat to win on every track NASCAR goes to.

    If there is one guy that can make this owner-driver thing work, it’s Tony Stewart. I don’t think we should write him off just yet. I think there still some fire left in ole Smoke and more Champoinships in the future.