Friday, August 15, 2008

Tony Stewart and his new teammate Ryan Newman set their sights on 2009 at Stewart-Haas Racing.

Readers of Racedriven.com may be wondering why this NASCAR fan has generally kept quit with the exception of a couple of comments on other blogs on the whole Tony Stewart-2009 move. Well, unlike last season when my favorite driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. was moving from DEI to Hendrick Motorsports, I had written on every move, however for this season’s Smoke news, I’ve been just waiting for all of the announcements to come together as well as just thinking about the whole move.

So as the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season continues on with just four races left in the Race to the Chase, the last thing I thought I would have been talking about is Tony Stewart’s 2009 move, however that is exactly where NASCAR fans are right now as Tony Stewart has just made his final announcement.

Before last month (July), the rumors and speculations had been running on just what Tony Stewart might be doing for 2010 as he was working on his new contract with Joe Gibbs racing, I remember last season (2007) writing that Gibbs Racing was going to move to Toyotas and my prediction was that Stewart would leave Gibbs (mainly Toyota) in 2010 for RCR, Hendrick or another team to drive Chevrolet’s again and that earlier this season, I agreed with Darrell Waltrip when he said he has not heard Tony saw that he wanted to stay at Gibbs and he would leave for another team.

With that said, I was shocked on July 9th, when the headline on Smokes site said “Joe Gibbs Racing and Tony Stewart to Part Ways after 2008 Season”, the first thoughts were wow, my prediction might come true, however at the same time, I thought why would he want to leave Joe Gibbs racing, the team where Smoke has won his two NASCAR Cup Series Championships and currently 32 victories, but winless so far in 2008. Second thought was, is he going to Hendrick with the #5 opening or RCR’s 4th car?

Well that was answered the next day as Tony would announce that he now has 50% ownership in Stewart-Haas Racing. Damn, that was either the last or so Chevrolet team I would have thought he would be driving, let along owning a piece of.

Since Chicagoland and his announcement, I’ve been reading a lot of comments, postings, articles on fans thoughts on this move, some good and others say what is he thinking and in that time, I began thinking about it like I did last year with Dale Jr., I said “that I am a Dale Jr. fan and I would support whatever decision he had made and I am happy to say this is a good one.”

So with that in mind, the question now is, has Tony Stewart made a good or bad career decision? Tony said at his press conference, “There are no guarantees with this.”, however “I like challenges and we’re going to go down swinging.” So the answer is yes, I will say the same thing when it comes to Tony Stewart and him becoming a driver/owner at Stewart-Haas Racing, “I will support whatever decision he makes and I am happy to say this is a good one” and I stand by that. Smoke is not the type of guy that is going to settle for anything, have you seen is Lambo or even better, his Unique hearse, the same will be said his racing, he owners a WoO two-car team and has found success there, so why no here.

One thing to keep in mind, Tony Stewart isn’t building a new raceteam from scratch like DW or Michael Waltrip has done, he is moving into an existing team with people already in place including Hendrick chassis, engines and support, and once everything is complete, Smoke is going to put his people in place at Stewart-Haas Racing, so are they going to be contenders? It is going to take some of 2009 to get everything including the chemistry within the teams in place, however Tony Stewart will be not only a contender week in and week out, but winning races next season, and I would say that Tony will be contending for his third championship in 2010-2011.


Photo Credit: Getty Image via Yahoo Sports.

Even more so, I think it’s cool that Smoke will be driving the #14 Old Spice/Office Depot Chevrolet, both cars look good, as for the number 14, A.J. Foyt’s number, that’s even better, even though I wish he was driving the #20, but we all know that wasn’t possible.

So the question now goes the same for Ryan Newman, has he made a good or bad career decision? So far this season even after winning the Daytona 500 this past February, Newman has not been happy at Penske Racing to say the least and he has said it in the media, so when the announcement last month was made that Ryan Newman and Penske racing would part ways after the 2008 season, that really didn’t surprise me at all, everybody needs a change and I think Newman made a good decision here.

However, I’m not sure the same can be said for Ryan Newman joining Stewart-Haas Racing in 2009 for the simple reason of, this is new situation for Newman, a new boss that not only is his owner, but his teammate and friend, he also might not have owners points for the first five races of 2009, I will be interested in seeing what he can do in the (#4 changed...on Aug. 18th edition of Tony Stewart's Radio show on Sirus, Tony had Ryan Newman as a guest and announced the Newman's would have a new number in 2009, the #39, good choice...) #39 Chevrolet.

There is a third person/company that has a huge stack in Stewart-Haas Racing and that is Chevrolet, this is a big victory for them, after about a year of work, they not only have secured Tony Stewart once again under their flag, but now they have secured Ryan Newman for a multi-year deal to drive for them as well. All I have to say is, it’s great to have Tony Stewart back at Chevrolet with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jimmie Johnson, right where they belong.

Note to all Tony Stewart fans: I feel for you as I went through this last season with Dale Jr., at first you might have your reservations, but most likely or like I did, you will not only accept it, but come to love it that Stewart has made this move, so what do you do now? You do the same thing as I did with Dale Jr., you pre-order your two diecasts, hats, shirts, coats, stickers for your car and see you at the races next season, enjoy. Comments.

- Racedriven