Volume III, Issue 7, Page 1

News and Analysis

Stewart Forms Own Team

Smoke talks sleeping late, his teammate, and A. J. throwing laptops in the pits

In one of the worst kept secrets in NASCAR, Tony ”Smoke” Stewart has finally officially announced his new team for 2009. The two-time NASCAR champ bought into the CNC Haas team and it will now be known as Stewart Haas Racing (SHR). They’ll use the number 14 of Stewart’s hero, the legendary A. J. Foyt on their Chevys. They already have Office Depot and Old Spice as co-primary sponsors. Another team will run under the SHR banner with more to possibly come later.

Smoke took some time at Indy to introduce the team and their new corporate partners to the press and answered questions. The first concerned Smoke’s not being what you’d call a morning person.

Q: Robby Gordon said that the only way to become a good owner is to get up before 11 AM.

Tony Stewart: Yeah, I’m going to start with 10:30am and try to get acclimated to that. It’s going to be like an eight-step process to try to get down to a reasonable hour in the morning. But believe it or not for the last two weeks I’ve been up between 8:30am and 9:00am every morning and that was even on vacation and I was waking up that early. You realize and you budget your time better. Just since Chicago my sleep has been better and I wake up in the morning and I feel more refreshed and I think even after today that will improve even more. That’s still the old short track driver in me that can’t get used to getting up before 11:00am or 12 o’clock. When I was down in Charlotte, I didn’t necessarily go to the race shop every day at Gibbs, but it’s a little different deal when it’s your own operation and you get up in the morning and you know that you’ve got stuff that you have to do, so it makes it a little easier to get up in the morning and get going.

Q: Have you thought more about how much time you’ll spend in Charlotte versus your home in Indiana?

TS: We’ll spend a lot more time, especially the rest of this year. I still have to take personal time, and if you don’t, you make yourself nuts. You know the schedule. It’s a tough schedule to maintain, so you still have to take that personal time out. I want this to be successful and want it to be successful right off the bat. To do that, the work has to start now and I’m ready for that and ready to spend as much time between Gibbs and Haas’ shop that we have to right now. Whatever it takes to get it done, that’s what we’re going to do.

Q: There has been so much buzz about Joey Logano. What are your impressions of him as a talent?

TS: I haven’t been able to spend too much time around him. But the time I have spent with him, I’m very impressed. I think he is one of the greatest young talents that’s come around in a long time. No matter what happens and what he ends up doing next year, I think he’ll be ready for it no matter what it is.

Q: Knowing A.J. Foyt for as long as you have, surely you’ve butted heads at times. Being fiery guys, how you have maintained a relationship?

TS: We’ve got the same personality. I think we have such a high level of respect for each other that when we’ve disagreed, it normally doesn’t last very long. Normally we’re the ones that are starting the disagreements between other people [laughs] and get them going. It’s like the commercials that this costs this much ad that costs that much and the rest is priceless. That’s what my relationship with him as been like.

Q: Do you think you and A.J. are similar?

TS: Somebody was giving me a hard time the other day when I was telling him that about three weeks ago I was on my tractor for about seven hours on my property, and this buddy of mine said yeah, you sound just like my old man. I asked him what he meant and he said oh you don’t remember? He rolled the bulldozer over. I’m thinking oh my God, I am starting to get more and more like him as this goes on. And it’s not planned that way, that’s just what happens. We just enjoy the same things and it’s like we were twin brothers that were born 30 or 20 years apart. But I’m proud of that. If you can be a lot like your childhood hero and not try to live that life, and that’s the way it works out, I’m proud of that.

Q: Foyt’s experience as an NASCAR owner hasn’t been that great. Have you talked to him about that?

TS: No, like I said, I haven’t had a chance to (talk to) him yet. I’m excited to hear his perception on it. Obviously he’s been involved in Indy Car racing for 50 years now, so he’s been through the highs and lows of the car ownership side. Obviously I value our friendship. I’m going to value his opinion on that too and definitely listen to what he’s got to say about it.

Q: You’ve made a lot of big decisions lately. Who do you go to and say, ‘Hey, do I do this?’

TS: I’ve got Eddie Jarvis, who has been with me for a long time and our business manager and I spoke to my family about it before I made a decision. I spoke to some past crew chiefs that I worked for in open wheel racing that I have a lot of trust in. I asked a lot of people about it in confidence. But after we talked at Talladega, a lot of the car owners (like) Richard Childress and Rick Hendrick came up and said hey, we’re here to help so if you need anything, call us. And I think that was probably what gave me the most security knowing that this isn’t a deal where as much as it’s a cutthroat industry, it’s not a cutthroat business. These guys all want everybody to be successful and understand that everybody’s part makes it what it is. And there are friendships that we have with these other owners. Having that support is really critical.