Stewart secures sponsor for own Cup team

UPDATE #13 Tony Stewart is expected to announce a 2009 move to Haas-CNC Racing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in three weeks. Reliable sources tell Sirius Speedway that Stewart will also announce sponsorship from Office Depot and Old Spice as part of a new, multi-year package with Haas CNC, and that Penske Racing’s Ryan Newman will join him as a teammate, with sponsorship from Jack Daniels. That surprise move comes as the result of an enviable situation at Richard Childress Racing, which now has five potential sponsors for next season, and only four teams. Sirius Speedway has learned that UPS will move from Michael Waltrip Racing’s #44 Toyota to the quarterpanels of Clint Bowyer’s #07 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet in 2009, leaving Jack Daniels in search of a new driver. That driver will be Newman, who is set to sign-on with Stewart at Haas CNC. Sirius NASCAR Radio's Sirius Speedway

07/05/08 Tony Stewart has a few obstacles left before he officially can become a Sprint Cup team owner, but sponsorship isn't one of them. The two-time Cup champion has reached an agreement that would make Office Depot a primary sponsor on his car if he finalizes a deal with Haas CNC Racing, a source close to the negotiations said on Thursday. Sources said an announcement could be made as early as the weekend of the July 27 race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which is located about an hour from Stewart's hometown of Columbus.

But before anything can happen Stewart would have to be released from the final year of his contact with Joe Gibbs Racing. JGR president J.D. Gibbs said on Friday at Daytona International Speedway that he remained in negotiations to extend Stewart's deal past 2009. Gibbs went so far as to say the organization could expand to four teams next season to make room for 18-year-old phenom Joey Logano.

He added that there has been no check offered from Chevrolet, which fields cars for Haas and Stewart's Sprint car teams, to buy out Stewart's contract as reports indicated might happen.

"What we've talked about is 2010," Gibbs said when asked if there are contingencies for Stewart leaving. "We have no control over that. So we kind of put in place if that happens, what makes sense? We've talked about a lot of stuff, but that's about all we've nailed down."

Stewart, appearing at a news conference to announce a special paint scheme featuring Old Spice and a "Give Kids The World" camp for next month's Nationwide Series race at Michigan, declined to comment on his contract situation.

"We'll worry about all that down the road here," he said. "We'll continue to let you know when we know."

Sources said Old Spice, which has had a personal service contract deal with Stewart for nine years, is a possibility to share sponsorship with Office Depot.

Old Spice's contract with JGR ends after this season. "We love our relationship with Tony," said Old Spice representative Jay Gooch. "I'm not going to speculate on what that future holds."

A source close to the situation said there have been discussions with Ryan Newman as the second driver. Newman has told team owner Roger Penske he will not re-sign unless the performance of his team improves and that they will talk again after Saturday's race about the future.

06/27/08 Tony Stewart proclaimed his interest Friday in Hendrick Motorsports’ soon-to-be-vacated No. 5 Chevrolet, saying the removal of Casey Mears from that ride could alter his plans for 2009 and beyond.

Stewart has another year left on his contract with Joe Gibbs Racing but has expressed interest in partial ownership of another team. Reports have said the deal is done, with sponsors and drivers named.

But Stewart said that wasn’t the case, joking at New Hampshire Motor Speedway that there are some teams he has yet to talk to.

“I’ve still got two ARCA teams I’m talking to, a truck team and now the 5 car’s available," Stewart said. “I’ve still got a lot of work to do."

But Stewart wasn’t joking when asked if Hendrick’s No. 5 would be something he would be interested in.

“Absolutely, absolutely," Stewart said. “You’ve got to. There’s nobody in this garage area that’s not going to look in that direction. You’ve got to look at that."

06/27/08 The deal is done! Earlier today, a source close to the situation told Captain Thunder that Chevrolet has agreed to terms with Joe Gibbs Racing to buy Tony Stewart out of his contract with the Toyota Sprint Cup racing team. Stewart will indeed be making the move to Haas CNC racing, a rumor that has been circulating for months.

Sources also told Captain Thunder that Stewart’s new sponsor will be Office Depot and terms have been finalized regarding the impending sponsorship. In addition, Stewart will be joined by Penske Racing driver Ryan Newman. Sources also told Captain Thunder that Newman would be sponsored by Burger King. No word yet on what car numbers the drivers will run. An announcement could come as early as next week at the Daytona International Speedway. – John ‘Captain Thunder’ Nevins for

06/26/08 This rumor is upgraded to 'strong' with expectations that Stewart will indeed buy into Haas CNC and take Martin Truex along with him. – – Tony Stewart is shopping for car sponsorships in anticipation of a potential partnership with Haas CNC Racing, multiple sources told Although Stewart has a year left on his contract at Joe Gibbs Racing and JGR officials insist he hasn't asked for a release, the two-time Sprint Cup champion appears prepared to share ownership of Haas Racing's two-car team in 2009. One source close to the situation said there have been discussions with Ryan Newman as the second driver. Newman has said he will not return to Penske Racing if the performance of that team doesn't improve quickly. Newman's name definitely would help draw sponsorship to Haas. "He's talking to every major sponsor that is available out there for this Haas deal," one source said of Stewart and his representatives. "I don't know if it's done, but it sounds like it's very close." Office Depot and Old Spice have emerged as the favorites for at least one of the cars. Office Depot lost its bid to remain with Carl Edwards of Roush Fenway Racing when Aflac was chosen as the primary sponsor of the #99. Sources said there have been discussions with Stewart's representatives that would make Office Depot and Old Spice co-primaries with Office Depot as the lead sponsor. Old Spice already has a relationship with Stewart in the Cup and Nationwide Series. Stewart would not address his future following Sunday's race at Infineon Raceway. JGR president J.D. Gibbs insisted Stewart had not closed the door on signing a long-term deal with the company that brought him to Cup racing in 1999 and helped him win titles in 2002 and 2005. But there is widespread speculation that the reason JGR has rushed Joey Logano into the Nationwide Series is to prepare him to take Stewart's place should Stewart leave. Stewart admitted two months ago there had been inquiries from other teams. He acknowledged there had been talks with Haas CNC that included ownership.

06/07/08 When will Tony Stewart announce his new deal – with UPS as his sponsor? And is there a buyout clause in his contract with JGR, which is why he's never "asked to be released" from his contract. Yahoo! Sports

06/06/08 Greg Zipadelli says he thinks Tony Stewart has made his decision concerning where he'll drive in the future – he just hasn't told people about it yet.

Zipadelli, the only crew chief Stewart has had during his 10-year NASCAR Cup career, is currently more focused on his new baby and improving the team's current finishes to worry too much about speculation surrounding Stewart and whether he'll remain with Joe Gibbs Racing or leave to take an ownership role while driving with another team. Stewart has another year remaining on his contract with JGR, though he could ask to opt out of that.

As to that future, Zipadelli doesn't appear to be dwelling too much on what could happen beyond this season.

"I don't know. I honestly think the decision's made, I just don't think we all know yet," he said.

Besides, he's been busy himself. Zipadelli and his wife, Nan, had a baby boy, Gianni, Wednesday.

05/24/08 J.D. Gibbs insisted Saturday that there has been no decision on where Tony Stewart will race in 2009. Stewart has acknowledged that he has had offers to drive from organizations that would include an ownership stake. One of those teams talked about was Haas CNC Racing.

The driver said Thursday that he has gotten further along in the process but nothing has been finalized.

Gibbs, the president of Joe Gibbs Racing, said nothing has been decided. “We are just working through the process with him again," Gibbs said Saturday. “The same thing we talked about before – he has other options out there and he’ll always have a lot of opportunities. Right now we’re focused on him in that car for this year and next year. We’ll ride that out."

Stewart currently has a contract through next season.

“All we can control is through next year," Gibbs said. “Our hope is if nothing else, is that we run hard the next couple of years. If this leaving happens, that happens."

04/29/08 We are hearing that Chevy is the driving force behind the Haas CNC buy-in for Stewart. We hear that Haas is afraid he won't be able to raise cash from sponsors anymore because he is in jail. Tony buys 51% of the Haas team mostly with Chevy money. Tony gets a turnkey race team and Tony gets tons of sponsorship for Haas. Haas is already a very wealthy ma, but he collects a lot of cash for the deal and gets a great driver. Chevy gets their man back from Toyota and everyone wins except Toyota.

04/25/08 Tony Stewart has several different offers to leave Joe Gibbs Racing, and he is considering every option – including ones that could make him the owner of his own NASCAR team. "We've got multiple offers on the table right now, and there's a couple in particular that really have caught our interest," Stewart told reporters Thursday after Nationwide Series practice at Talladega Superspeedway. "We haven't made a 100% decision yet on what we're going to do, but we're going to look at all the options. And the options are exciting, all the way around." Stewart's deal with JGR runs through 2009, and he said last summer he was interested in signing an extension with the team he's driven for since 1998. But contract talks moved slowly, with Stewart saying in January he was in no rush to get a deal done. Stewart said Thursday he has not ruled out staying with JGR, but when he began negotiating a new contract, other teams approached him with new opportunities. The same thing happened back in 2003, when Stewart was able to leverage several deals – including one from Chip Ganassi – to secure a more lucrative contract with Gibbs. "A wise person told me it never cost a dime to listen, so right now we're all ears," Stewart said of the latest offers. "Right now it's just a matter of figuring out what we want to do, and being smart. We've had a great run at Joe Gibbs Racing. It doesn't mean it's over. We're just going to look at everything that's out there." Stewart said Thursday he has informed Gibbs officials of his offers, and there were discussions of potentially leaving the team early depending on what deal he agreed to. But he said "a couple offers" included ownership, and the thought of running his own team excited him. Stewart said he has not discussed owning a portion of JGR with owner Joe Gibbs. "Right now we've not asked to be released out of our contract," he said. "They know there are other offers on the table and we've said, `What if this is the case? And what if this is presented to us? Is there a possibility we could be released from our contract early?' But we have not asked to be released from our contract." Cary Agajanian, who represents Stewart through the Motorsports Management Int. agency, cited the sensitivity of contract talks in declining to comment. "His contract is through 2009 with Joe Gibbs Racing," said Agajanian, "that's about all we know, and all we can say." Associated Press

04/25/08 Joe Gibbs Racing President J.D. Gibbs said in a statement released Thursday that he hopes driver Tony Stewart finishes his NASCAR career with the team.

Online reports indicated Stewart was negotiating with Haas CNC Racing to join that Chevrolet team for 2009, even as Stewart has that year remaining on his contract with JGR.

But Gibbs said he hoped Stewart would remain with his team.

“There has been much speculation regarding the future of our driver, Tony Stewart," Gibbs said. “Tony is currently here through 2009, and from a Joe Gibbs Racing standpoint, we hope he drives for us longer than that and retires here.

“Tony is a great partner and a huge asset to Joe Gibbs Racing. Right now we are focused on winning races and winning the next two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championships under his current contract."

04/24/08 We are bumping this rumor up to 'strong' today. Two-time Cup champion Tony Stewart said Thursday that he has offers of ownership from other existing teams and is considering those offers, but he did not rule out a return to Joe Gibbs Racing next season and beyond.

Stewart said he has discussed his various offers with JGR officials and has talked to JGR about the possibility that if he were to go somewhere else starting in 2010, could he leave after this season instead of waiting until after his contract ends in 2009. He said, though, that he has not made a decision about what he is going to do and has not requested to get out of his contract. “There’s a couple of groups that have thrown some ownership in the mix," Stewart said.

“There’s nothing broke. We didn’t go out and say, ‘Hey, we’re looking to leave Joe Gibbs Racing.’ We haven’t made a 100 percent decision yet of what we’re going to do. “But we’re going to look at all the options, and the options are exciting all the way around. It’s pretty exciting. … Right now, it’s just a matter of figuring out what we want to do and just being smart. We’ve had a great run at Joe Gibbs Racing, and it doesn’t mean it’s over yet. We’re just going to look at everything that’s out there. A wise person told me it never costs a dime to listen, so right now we’re all ears."

Acknowledging that Haas CNC Racing was one of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams that has talked to him about ownership, Stewart would not name the others nor would he say how many offers he has, although he said the number is closer to five than to 10. He said it would not be appropriate for him to ask Joe Gibbs for part ownership of JGR, but that he would be interested if negotiations went in that direction. He also would not divulge if any of the teams were with manufacturers other than Chevrolet. He said that while he has a strong relationship with Chevrolet through his World of Outlaws team, he also has felt good about Toyota’s roll out with Joe Gibbs Racing this season. “I’m still passionate about Chevrolet," Stewart said. “I’ve had a great relationship with General Motors – obviously when I started I was with Pontiac and then won a championship with Chevrolet in ’05. They’re our power plants and our sponsor in the open-wheel series. I still have a lot of connections there.

“But at the same time, we’ve built a great relationship in a short amount of time with Toyota. It’s not an issue where there is something wrong there, but I have a lot of strong ties to Chevrolet, obviously."

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