Team ownership just natural progression in Stewart's Cup career
Does Tony Stewart's future lie in ownership with Haas CNC or as a driver with Joe Gibbs Racing? Either way, the two-time Cup champ would be foolish not to listen to potential suitors, writes Marty Smith.
Updated: April 30, 2008, 2:27 PM ETBy Marty Smith | ESPN.com
Sometimes, you just need a diversion You're absolutely ridiculous, Marty! I was one of the founding members of The Six, and you don't even give me the time of day! Instead, you give print space to wannabes who are all trying to become "The Seventh." I e-mail you a question just about every week, and you NEVER pick them! I guess I'll try one last time before I seriously consider giving up my spot as part of The Six (since you seem none too eager to repay our loyalty). All this talk of Tony Stewart and Martin Truex Jr. has me wondering, did Dale Earnhardt Jr. unknowingly set another precedent by starting Silly Season so early last year? Because 1) It's hard to imagine all this talk starting so early in years past, and 2) Part of me can't help but to think that these drivers wouldn't consider going through the extra headaches of switching teams (and possibly sponsors, car numbers, etc.) if they didn't get to witness the success of both Kyle Busch and Dale Jr. this year after having braved the same difficulties. Come on, Marty -- PLEASE answer at least one of my questions. You don't know how exciting it would be for me.-- Anna, Los AngelesThrow a party, Anna. You're in. T-shirt's in the mail. As for Junior's free agency affecting Stewart's current situation, no, I don't think there is any correlation whatsoever. (The Benjamins Junior got might be a different story entirely, however.) In all seriousness, the circumstances are wholly different. Earnhardt was miserable at DEI.
I believe Stewart when he says nothing is wrong at Joe Gibbs Racing -- Gibbs is winning everything but the local bingo pot and has the most gracious group of folks running the show that you'll ever have the pleasure to meet. I also don't believe this is a ploy to sweeten his JGR pot, which some folks allege happened during Stewart's previous contract negotiation. It's not about JGR. It's about Tony Stewart. Fact is, Stewart would be plumb nuts not to listen to suitors. He said so himself. Just because he has it all as a driver doesn't mean he can't have more in other capacities. Stewart is fully enveloped in racing, from track ownership to sprint car teams. This is a natural progression for him, and if someone's going to offer him an ownership stake in an established team with excellent equipment, that's kid-on-Christmas stuff. And Chevrolet equipment, at that. I can't stress enough how important that is to Stewart.Some folks have asked me, "Why Haas? For a marquee name like Stewart, wouldn't much better teams offer the same thing?" Haas has a ton of resources. It has a brand-new shop, complete with seven-post shaker rig. It has a rolling wind tunnel that costs more than a barrel of crude oil. (That's a gas price joke. A bad one.) The wind tunnel is a $40 million machine. There are only three like it in the world, and the two outside of Haas are positioned in confidential locations. Bottom line -- this deal's not done. Sources tell me things are progressing well between Stewart and Haas CNC Racing, but Stewart has several huge decisions ahead. It's a good place to be. And he might re-sign at Joe Gibbs Racing and make all this drama a big ol' waste of breath. Who knows? As Gibbs said last weekend, at this point in Stewart's life, it's about winning, and at JGR, he'll have a chance to win a whole handful of rings. Marty, You OK? You looked terrible at Talladega on Thursday. You were sweating, hair all over the place. And can you talk to someone at ESPN about those yellow earmuffs? You look like a cartoon, man. -- Jamie Mosley, Birmingham, Ala. If you think Thursday was bad, you should have seen me Wednesday, Jamie. When the Stewart story broke, my boss called to inquire whether I was close to a camera, so as to report on the story on TV.I told him I looked like Nick Nolte's mugshot. I wasn't kidding.And your cartoon line isn't original. Three or four people write each week to tell me I look like Woody from "Toy Story," and another 10 crack on my resemblance to Jimmy Neutron. Marty, I've got a historical question for you. What is the history behind the tri-oval shaped racetrack, and why do the track owners like it so much? I've been watching NASCAR for over 10 years, and something I still can't stand is the habit of calling one corner "turns 1 and 2."When I'm racing my buddies on the computer, we have always considered them one turn. To our way of thinking, the tri-ovals have three turns, one at each end of the track and the kink in the front stretch. Indianapolis is one of the few tracks that actually has four corners. Bristol, Martinsville, Loudon, etc., all have two turns. -- Matt Clark, Las VegasI was forced to seek out the expertise of my man Buz McKim on this one for you, Matt. Buz is the chief historian at the NASCAR Hall of Fame. He can tell you what brand of wing tip Dave Marcus ran in the 1984 Daytona 500.
AP Photo/Carlos OsorioThe big question surrounding Tony Stewart these days: Is he showing us all his cards?
with Marty Smith
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