By admin | May 17, 2009
By Richard Allen
It has been a very interesting last few days for Gene Haas. For that matter it has been a very interesting last couple of years for Gene Haas.
Haas surrendered to federal authorities in January of 2008 to begin serving a 24 month prison sentence. He had earlier pleaded guilty of conspiring to cheat the government out of millions of dollars in taxes owed by his company, Haas Automation, Inc.
He was released from the Los Angeles area correctional facility where he had served his sentence on May 8, 2009. Haas received permission from a federal judge to attend NASCAR events while serving out the remainder of his sentence on a supervised release program.
During his 16 month prison stint, Haas joined in a partnership with one of the most successful drivers in recent NASCAR history, Tony Stewart. Midway through the 2008 season Stewart was essentially given 50% of the previously languishing Haas team, and thus, Stewart-Haas Racing was born.
Stewartâ€™s initial season behind the wheel and behind a desk at SHR has been a somewhat surprising success. Even with support from powerful Hendrick Motorsports, it would have been difficult to foresee the type of success this team has experienced so far in 2009.
That success reached a high point on Saturday night when Stewart won the Sprint All Star Challenge at the Loweâ€™s Motor Speedway. In so doing, he and his newly released business partner collected a cool $1 million. Thatâ€™s not a bad payday for a man less than two weeks out of jail.
For Gene Haas, who was in attendanceÂ at the Charlotte area track on Saturday, that win had to seem like a liberating experience, in more ways than one.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.
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