The big news in NASCAR this week centers on two-time Cup champion, Tony Stewart. Stewart has decided to take a gamble at becoming more than just a great driver. It’s no secret to the NASCAR Nation that if it has wheels, Tony Stewart can probably drive it. He has eleven championships to his credit. From Indy cars to Midget, Sprint and Silver cup championships, Tony Stewart has proven that he is one of the greatest drivers in motor sports history. He began as a seven year old kid, with a go-cart at the Columbus Fairgrounds in Indiana and worked steadily toward his dream of becoming a NASCAR champion.
Next year will begin a new chapter in Tony Stewart’s history in NASCAR. Joe Gibbs Racing will announce this week that they will be parting ways with Tony Stewart next year after a ten year, very successful relationship. Tony Stewart will become half-owner of the current Haas CNC racing and drive for that team in 2009. Stewart could have continued with Joe Gibbs Racing and extended his contract but he has decided to take a leap of faith, and perhaps secure his place in the legacy of NASCAR.
There will be many changes next year with the creation of Stewart Haas Racing. Tony Stewart will reportedly be paid the highest salary for a NASCAR driver in the sport. It is also rumored that Ryan Newman will join Tony in driving for Stewart Haas next year. Office Depot and Old Spice will funnel a lot of money into a team that has had a hard time being competitive before this. Haas CNC racing is yet to win a Sprint Cup race. What number will he be driving? He has a few choices from the No. 14, made famous by A.J. Foyt to the No. 66 currently driven by Scott Riggs and the No. 70 car that has had no successful driver for some time.
So why would Tony Stewart go out on a limb and do this? He’s taking a long shot, that he can be more than just another driver. He wants to be a part of the sport for the long haul. One day when “Smoke” has to hang up his helmet, he wants to continue on in the sport in another way. He wants to become a legend. If things continue to look up for him as they have in the past his legacy will rival that of Richard Petty and Dale Earnhart Sr. Who not only were revered drivers but owners and business men who followed their dreams and took their shot.