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More Thorough Ruminations About Tony, Kurt and The State Of Stewart-Haas Racing

Posted by Amy in General | NASCAR

The only picture I have that I personally have taken that is Tony and Kurt together that I could find from the 2011 Champions Week celebration (photo credit: Amy K. Marbach)

I have already given my thoughts on the Kurt Busch to Stewart-Haas Racing in 2014 news but I wanted to make some further ruminations about it BEFORE Tony Stewart has his press conference on Tuesday (it’s scheduled for 2:00 pm eastern time- that’s 11:00am for us west coasties- don’t think I am not already trying to finagle a way into taking my lunch early so I can watch). I suppose these are mostly for MY benefit- ways for me to make sense of it as I know and understand it-  but I thought I would share them since there has been a lot of information circulating that didn’t get my consideration in my initial knee jerk post and I overlooked some things completely (kind of on purpose).

1. I still feel the same way about the 2014 Stewart-Haas line up.  I think that you have three fiercely competitive,  probably bordering on aggressive, drivers in Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch. Combining those three into ONE team is, to me, like creating the AVENGERS of NASCAR teams.  Okay so maybe the Avengers analogy is a little much but fans have been bitching about the “power” and “dominance” of Hendrick Motorsports for years and the new Stewart-Haas lineup might just help even that out.  I am going to go out there and say that Tony is going to come back with a vengeance next season- I just have a feeling about that.  I know I said this before but Harvick is currently 4th in the standings people.  Kurt is 12th.  Sure, the wrangling aspect might be difficult for someone like Greg Zipadelli who has to get all the teams to work together cohesively and the PR team headed by Mike Arning might have their hands full at times.  Honestly though, I don’t see it being THAT big of an issue. They are adults. They are professionals. I assume that all three love what they do enough not to risk it.

2.  I keep seeing past racing incidents being brought up and sweeping generalizations like Tony and Kurt don’t get along so this is going to be circus next year. Really? You know this for sure?  According to what I read, Tony and Kurt watched at least part of the Sonoma IndyCar Race together so they can obviously stand to be in the same room with each other. I believe that it was back in May that Tony Stewart offered to spot for Kurt Busch should he decide to run the Indy 500.  I don’t think Tony would do that if he didn’t get along with Kurt.  What is being forgotten is this: people grow and people change, pretty much constantly (thank goodness for that- I wouldn’t want to be the same person I was years ago- would you?).  And I am talking about both Kurt Busch and Tony Stewart here. Not to mention the fact that most of us NASCAR fans know that drivers say and do things during a heat-of-the-moment racing incident that they likely wouldn’t do or say otherwise. It’s water under the bridge people and if it’s not- I bet it will be soon.

3. The whole “Gene Haas is evil incarnate and did this behind Tony’s back while he is down” thing- well in all honesty he kind of did that- he admitted that Tony didn’t know about it. However, I have a feeling that this would have happened whether or not Tony broke his leg.  I don’t think Gene Haas was clairvoyant and was waiting for Tony to get injured so he could use it as an excuse to “pull the wool” over Tony’s eyes and kick-Tony-while-he’s-down. I think that was a very unfortunate coincidence.  Do I think Tony has legitimate concerns about this expansion? Hell yeah I do- I have concerns myself- I mentioned them briefly in my first post about this subject.  But I really do think that if the team can come together this will work.  It has been mentioned that the dealing started during Indianapolis weekend. I personally think it’s been in the works A LOT LONGER than that. Do I know this for a fact? No. Would it surprise me? No.  I haven’t seen ANYONE mention the fact that the name of the team is STEWART-HAAS racing. Gene Haas does get a say in running the business as well I think (you know not being privvy to the particulars of the partnership this is a bold statement- but I call them like I see them).  Tony and Gene may disagree- such is the nature of a business partnership.  ANY BUSINESS PARNTERSHIP.   DISAGREEMENTS in business are a part of life and what is done has been done.  The goal is to rise above them and make it work. I think the Stewart-Haas Racing family (because they may not be blood but you can not spend that much time with people and NOT consider them family) can and will do this.

4. Someone pointed out on my FaceBook post that linked to my first article that I didn’t mention Ryan Newman and if I thought he counted.  Sigh- this is a prickly subject and honestly- I am not sure how I feel about it.  I don’t think that there is one specific issue that makes Ryan a good or bad prospect.  I think that part of the issue may be that Ryan Newman may not be as “sellable” sponsorship wise.  I don’t know ANY particulars of the 39 car’s state of sponsorship or IF these sponsors were considering continuing with Ryan Newman should the 39 team be renewed (I am a Tony Stewart fan so honestly I don’t fret as much about the other teams sponsorships)- that right there might be a big part of it.    Let’s face it- they aren’t that competitive right now and sponsors want that competitiveness so maybe without a big name like Tony Stewart- the sponsors were starting to not feel so warm and fuzzy continuing to throw money at the team.  I am not saying that Ryan is a bad driver or a bad person, he is, after all, the highest ranked driver from the Stewart-Haas stable in the championship standings right now- he can drive.  Do I think that bringing on Busch after releasing Ryan was a bit of a slap in the face? Well yes and no.  I can see it from Ryan’s point of view that hey- I have been with this team from the onset.  He is a founding driver like Tony.  But I can also see Gene Haas’s point of view. LOOK what Kurt Busch has worked hard to do with an underfunded one car team.  It sounds to me like Gene Haas is willing to put his money where his mouth is when it comes to sponsoring Kurt- hoping that the change can help jump start Stewart-Haas. Something definitely needs to be done – they are NOT competitive right now- as much as that pains me to say as a Tony Stewart fan.  They KNOW it- what I am not saying anything that is news here.  Sometimes change is painful to everyone but for the best.  Still it’s a prickly subject and I understand the Ryan Newman fans being up in arms- certainly after Tony said that if they had the money for the fourth team they would put Ryan on the shortlist of drivers.  I am sure there are hurt feelings- I can’t imagine there NOT being any.

5. This was a good time to do something like this.  Why? Because Stewart-Haas is already struggling this season as I have mentioned.  I can’t see how this has not been a distraction to EVERYONE at SHR- between adding Kevin Harvick, announcing that Ryan Newman will not be returning to SHR, and then the injury to their driving force and I am sure beloved figurehead Tony Stewart.  Could the season get anymore upside down? Not really. I mean you have some serious journalist/media members writing about how they think that Stewart-Haas Racing is going to be a circus next season- you don’t think THAT doesn’t distract a team (I refuse to link to the article because I don’t want to drive traffic to it- but if you really want to know leave a comment or hit me up on my social media and we will discuss this)? May as well get the hurt feeling and uncertainty that comes with change out of the way NOW so that we can focus on 2014 and come out of the box STRONGER than ever.  I really do feel that this could be a very very good thing.

6. You might want to skip this one because I am going to go all soapboxy again about something that has been bugging the hell out of me and I have got to mention it before I ended up getting in some sort of major flame war online about it because I just can’t NOT keep quiet any longer (so far I have been a good girl and held my tongue fingers but I have to bring this up- sorry).  I must have read this on Facebook and Twitter a bazillion times: “Kurt Busch to SHR in 2014? What? Did Tony sustain a head injury as well as a leg injury?” Urg- really people?  Do not make light of a racing accident. From what I heard Greg Zipadelli say about Tony’s sprint car accident- it was kind of a freak accident thing and that he believes they are looking into that part of the car that busted and actually broke his leg (don’t ask me what it was- I don’t remember- a drive shaft or something? I only know enough about cars to be slightly dangerous).  But it COULD HAVE BEEN MUCH WORSE.  He did break his leg and not his head (that we know of) and I, for one, am damn thankful for that.  I think the whole head injury insinuation is uncool. Do not even bring that up- it’s not cute and it doesn’t emphasize your point- at all. /soapbox

So there you have it.  My more thorough, reasoned out thoughts about the Stewart-Haas 2014 expansion as we know it to be.


Now onto something more light-hearted in nature. As I mentioned, the other day I read an article about Kurt Busch’s move to Stewart-Haas Racing that mentioned that Kurt had visited with Tony and watched the IndyCar race with him on Sunday (I didn’t bookmark the article so I honestly don’t remember which one it was) and that got me wondering: What would it be like to watch a race with a racer?

I think it would be interesting to casually sit down with someone like Tony and watch a race. Especially if it were a NASCAR race if that driver happened to be Tony Stewart.  Of course he probably wouldn’t want to watch with me for a couple of reasons. Reason one: I might drive him nuts with questions. I figure if I have a honest-to-goodness racer in my midst especially one who happens to runs the series we are watching- I may as well pick his brain. Okay who am I kidding even if he didn’t run the series I would still want to ask questions- even if it was NHRA or my nephews racing around the living room. Reason two: I tend to curse when I am wrapped up in a race- although that may be just when Tony’s in the race- I don’t have a curse-a-meter at home so I can’t be sure about that. I could probably keep my questions/cursing in check but who knows (as an aside: Misty has a great story about my cursing while watching races- if you are ever in her presence- ask her about the “Amy and Brian Vickers/Tony Stewart incident at Sonoma a couple of years ago”- it’s a doozey and no one can tell it quite like she can). Anyway- yeah- I would like to watch a race with Tony Stewart.  Just throwing that out there- I can’t be the only one who thought this.  I will refrain from adding it to the bucket list because I don’t think this is something that is even possible.

A Gratuitous Tony Stewart Picture:

A favorite of mine that I have taken. This was during the 2010 Stewie Awards in Las Vegas:

Tony Stewart smiles at the 2010 Stewie Awards in Las Vegas, NV

[Original Caption: Probably the best picture of Tony Stewart I have managed to take...because most of them manage to blur because I get nervous and move the camera. (Photo Credit: Amy K. Marbach)]

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2 Responses

  • Charity says:

    While I think the same as you do, that Gene Haas would have done it even if Tony wasn’t injured, I don’t think it is right for him to do it. He and Tony are partners, and frankly, it shows poor business sense for him to go after a 4th driver knowing that Tony had already said they couldn’t afford to field a 4th car right now. If Tony had felt they could afford the 4th car in the first place, I’m sure they’d have kept Ryan instead of taking on Kurt….or perhaps let Danica go to give Kurt her car.

    I like Kurt myself. To me, Kurt is a mini-me of Tony attitude-wise. That’s one of the reasons why I love Tony and one of the reasons I like Kurt. That being said, while I like the idea of Kurt being added to Stewart-Haas Racing, I do not like the way in which it was done. It shows me that Gene Haas has a bit to learn about what partnership means.

  • @kevinmboots77 says:

    Gene Haas has a network of over 250 million, you don’t get that rich without knowing what you’re doing.
    To me this is is Gene showing that he isn’t a silent partner, he is the money behind the entire team. Tony brings in recognition and sponsors. People in NASCAR want to be around Smoke, not Gene Haas. Neither of them could have gotten to where SHR is today with out the other one. I really like Newman., he is in my top 10 all time favorite drivers. He just isn’t the driver Gene wants in the car he pays for out of pocket. You have to respect that.
    I also concur about this was going on with or without the accident happening. I mean they are already starting construction of the shop expansion. You can’t finalize stuff like that over night and I doubt you could even with most of a month since Gene started his pursuit of Kurt. I think this shows more about Gene’s love of racing and the desire to win than anything. As it has been stated either where, Gene didn’t think through the logistics of it, he just wanted Kurt, plain and simple.
    It might be a bumpy road but it will be one hell of a show next year.

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