- David Newton, ESPN Carolina Panthers reporter
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HOMESTEAD, Fla. -- Tony Gibson has finalized a deal to become the crew chief for Ryan Newman at Stewart-Haas Racing in 2009 and he hopes to bring with him the rest of his No. 8 crew from Dale Earnhardt Inc.
"This week we're going to work hard on finalizing my guys," Gibson said Friday from Homestead-Miami Speedway. "I think it's all going to work out just fine."
Also, DEI competition director Bobby Hutchens has been named to the same position at Stewart-Haas.
"That'll be a huge asset for us," Gibson said. "I've known Bobby for about 22 years. He's the perfect guy to organize it and orchestrate it, so financially they're secure if the business is run the right way. That was a huge catch for Stewart-Haas."
Gibson said he wanted to stay at DEI, but because the No. 8 car did not have full sponsorship for next season, the company was not able to offer him a long-term deal.
He said Richard Childress Racing and several other teams also contacted him about positions.
"I put it off as long as I could, just giving DEI a chance to put something together," he said. "I just felt it was in my best interest to look for something different."
Gibson said he had made up his mind to leave long before Wednesday's announcement that DEI and Chip Ganassi Racing were merging to form a four-car team next season.
He said the mood has been like a "morgue" at DEI because more than 100 people will be let go, with two of its current four cars being eliminated.
"It's scary right now," he said. "It's real scary. Nobody is really talking. I know last week it was real quiet in that shop. A lot of guys have uncertainty about what their future is. Some people aren't going to want to merge. They're confused and not sure of really how all of this is going to work."
To add to the confusion, there has been no final decision on whether DEI will continue its engine program partnership with RCR or whether the organization will be Chevrolet (DEI), or Dodge (Ganassi), or a combination.
"I really hope they survive this," Gibson said. "I hope two or three years from now they can split back and do their own deal."
David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tony Gibson has finalized a deal to become the crew chief for Ryan Newman at Stewart-Haas Racing in 2009 and he hopes to bring with him the rest of his No. 8 crew from Dale Earnhardt Inc.