Tag:Tony Stewart
Posted on: January 23, 2012 9:37 am

Ryan Newman adds more 2012 sponsorship

Posted by Pete Pistone

From News Release

Aspen Dental has reached a multi-year agreement with Stewart-Haas Racing.

The Syracuse, N.Y.-based company, with more than 330 locations in 22 states, will be the primary sponsor of SHR's #39 team with driver Ryan Newman at the July Sprint Cup race at Daytona International Speedway and the September event at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

When not serving as primary sponsor, Aspen Dental will be an associate sponsor with placement on the lower-rear quarter panel of the #39 Chevy and on the upper chest of Newman's uniform. The company also secured rights to utilize Tony Stewart promotionally. 

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Posted on: January 18, 2012 11:55 am
Edited on: January 18, 2012 12:10 pm

2011 Team Review/Preview: Stewart-Haas Racing

By Pete Pistone

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(Stewart joined a select group of NASCAR drivers with his third career Sprint Cup title in 2011)


When Tony Stewart was asked before the Chase even started whether or not he was a championship-caliber driver in 2011 he answered in no uncertain terms. 

"I will be perfectly honest," Stewart said after his August finish at Michigan. "At this point of the deal, if we're going to run this bad, it really doesn't matter whether we make the Chase or not because we're going to be occupying a spot in the Chase that somebody else who actually can run for a championship is trying to take -- because our stuff is so bad right now. We're wasting one of those top-12 spots right now."

But once the playoffs started Stewart was not just taking up space among the dozen Chase drivers. He put on an historic performance that saw the No. 14 Chevrolet roll into victory lane five times over the final ten races helping Stewart win the Sprint Cup championship in a tiebreaker over Carl Edwards

Stewart capped the run with a remarkable effort in the Homestead-Miami Speedway season finale all but willing his car to victory and in the process wrapping up his third career Cup title.

“It truly was one of the best battles, I feel like, in the history of the sport because of that, not just because of the outcome of who won, but just the fact that you had the top two guys that literally fought it out,” Stewart said of the hard fought struggle with Edwards as the season wound down. “And other than Phoenix, we ran second and third there, but we virtually raced for the wins and to win a championship at the same time.

“It wasn't just a head-to-head battle and who got more points than the other by finishing ahead. We were winning races and finishing in the top three to do it. To me, that's the part of it that kind of brings out the race fan in me.”

Championship number three put Stewart in some elite company with the likes of Dale Earnhardt, Richard Petty, Lee Petty, David Pearson, Cale Yarborough, Darrell Waltrip, Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon. Stewart considers it an honor to be among the group who have won three or more titles at NASCAR’s top level.

“Every one of those drivers that have won three championships are icons in this sport,” Stewart said. “I somewhat honestly feel out of place being on that list. At the same time, I feel honored to be in it with them.”

The crown was the highlight of an overall great season for Stewart-Haas Racing that also saw teammate Ryan Newman win a race and make the Chase.

He hammered home 17 top ten finishes including a victory at New Hampshire Motor Speedway but Newman wasn’t able to back it up with a better performance during the Chase.

The disappointing playoff run left Newman ultimately frustrated when the season came to a close although he was proud of the team’s overall accomplishment.

“We just had too many issues and a streak of bad luck during the Chase,” said Newman.  “The late charge began with a 10th-place finish at Martinsville Speedway and included a fifth-place run at Phoenix International Raceway.

“You always want to end the season feeling good. The spirit is high at our Stewart-Haas Racing shop and the No. 14 team did a remarkable job in the Chase.”


Despite winning the championship, SHR made some dramatic changes in the off season and will try to defend its title with a distinctive new look.

Stewart parted ways with crew chief Darian Grubb and brought in Steve Addington to take the role after the veteran’s departure from Penske Racing.

Addington believes he’ll be a good fit working with Stewart because of their similar backgrounds and styles.

“If I just go out and do my job, I’ve got confidence in myself and the organization to go out and win races and compete for a championship,” Addington said. “I’m not going to be the big difference. It's going to be the people in the organization. Tony Stewart is a hell of a race-car driver and he is going to go out and win races if we give him a car that is capable of being competitive.”

As for the decision to replace Grubb even after winning the crown, Stewart says it was nothing personal and strictly business.

“There were a group of us that sat down and had to make a decision and the decision was that we needed to go in a different direction,” Stewart said. “That decision was made before the Chase started. We said we wanted to finish this thing out strong together; we were going to do it to the end of the year.

“I’m very, very proud of the fact that through that, (Grubb) was able to do a great job and we were able to come out with a championship. It’s a pretty strong statement.”

Stewart made another strong statement regarding the future of his race team when he brought Greg Zipadelli, who served as his crew chief during their days together at Joe Gibbs Racing, in to serve as Director of Competition.

The formerly successful duo is looking forward to the chance to once again team up and make a run at a title.

“Joe Gibbs always says that you win with people, and Tony Stewart is a winner,” Zipadelli said. “We won a lot together at Joe Gibbs Racing, and it was a sad day when he left. But Tony had an unbelievable opportunity with Stewart-Haas Racing, and he’s obviously made the most of it.

"To become a part of what he’s already built, but to do it in a new role with a new set of responsibilities, was a challenge I wanted. I really appreciate Joe and J.D. Gibbs for all that that they’ve given me over the years and for allowing me to seize this opportunity.”

Zipadelli’s role at SHR will also include a little crew chiefing as well as he’ll call the shots for Danica Patrick as she makes her move into a full-time NASCAR career.

Patrick will run a ten race Sprint Cup Series program for Stewart’s team in addition to her full-time Nationwide Series schedule for JR Motorsports and she’s looking forward to working with the man known as “Zippy.”

“I feel really comfortable with him so far,” Patrick said during last week’s Daytona Preseason Thunder test. “I feel respected, and I feel like he's been very patient.

“Even the little things, getting here this morning and just kind of adjusting a belt a little bit and adjusting a throttle a little bit, he doesn't look at me like I'm inexperienced and I should be comfortable right away or it should be right or the throttle doesn't feel right or I should get used to it and be used to it. He investigates and says, ‘no problem, let's get it right,’ and makes me comfortable with that kind of stuff.”


Expect Stewart to be back in the mix for a fourth championship and Newman to again challenge for a Chase spot. The chemistry between Stewart and Addington should gel quickly while Newman and his veteran crew chief Tony Gibson are also a solid pair. Patrick’s Cup effort will be nothing more than an extended period of her getting seat time and a finish anywhere inside the first twenty would be considered a success.


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Posted on: January 13, 2012 11:11 am
Edited on: January 13, 2012 12:59 pm

Video: Tony Stewart on testing at Daytona

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Posted on: January 11, 2012 2:42 pm
Edited on: January 11, 2012 2:50 pm

Idle Thoughts: 10 things to watch in 2012

By Pete Pistone

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(Can Tony Stewart repeat his dramatic 2011 Sprint Chup championship with a fourth career title this year?)

The first taste of the 2012 NASCAR season hits the track this week with Daytona’s Preseason Thunder test session. But it won’t be too long before the real campaign begins and the reality of the new year sets in.

After an off-season like none before full of personnel moves, team changes and sponsorship issues the NASCAR landscape has a much different look to it than it did at last November’s Homestead finale.

Taking into consideration the myriad of alterations here are the top ten stories that I’ll be most interested to watch develop this year when Speedweeks at Daytona rolls around in a little over a month:

The Impact of NASCAR’s Rule Changes on the Two-Car Draft

The majority of fans have spoken and the tandem drafting phenomenon as Daytona and Talladega has gotten a huge thumbs down. So to keep the customers satisfied, NASCAR is doing whatever it can to bust up the Noah’s Ark racing and return to the “traditional” restrictor plate racing pack style of competition. Adjustments to the rear spoiler, rear springs, size of the restrictor plate and most importantly the cooling systems will get a work out during this week’s Daytona test in hopes they will at the very least limit the two-car draft. The jury is still out whether anything but the wear of the track’s new pavement over time will have any affect on racing at Daytona or Talladega for years to come.

The Introduction of Fuel Injection to the Sprint Cup Series

Teams have tested NASCAR’s new EFI system that will replace the traditional carbureted engines for nearly a year. But until it is used in actual racing conditions the change remains a major variable for crew chiefs to figure out. Some believe it will have no impact others think fuel mileage and engine reliability will be majorly compromised. Still others don’t have any earthly idea of what to expect which adds an intriguing element in trying to handicap the field.

Tony Stewart’s Quest for a Second Straight Championship

Career Sprint Cup title number three came in dramatic fashion for Stewart last season when he edged Carl Edwards in a tiebreaker. After winning five races in the Chase and putting on a furious charge down the stretch to win the crown in such dramatic fashion the question becomes what can Stewart do for an encore? He’ll enter the year with a new crew chief in Steve Addington and old friend Greg Zipadelli in the Director of Competition role at Stewart-Haas Racing. The resources are there for Stewart to again challenge for the championship and add another Cup trophy to his collection. 

The Carl Edwards Hangover Effect

When Denny Hamlin went down to the wire and lost the 2010 championship to Jimmie Johnson he never recovered from the experience. Now it’s Edwards turn to see if he can comeback from being so tantalizingly close to the top of the mountain. Edwards vowed to be back in title contention this season after losing last year’s prize by a whisker. His team is intact from a resource perspective but whether last season’s disappointment will drain Edwards and company mentally as it did Hamlin remains to be seen.

Will Jimmie Johnson Return to Championship Form?

The odds makers have already installed Johnson as the championship favorite despite his uncharacteristic performance last season when the five straight title run ended. Johnson appears motivated by the challenge to bounce back and start another consecutive championship streak. That might be bad news for his competitors who haven’t had to face a determined Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus for some time. The duo is very focused on proving they are still a formidable team.

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(Danica Patrick will make her move to NASCAR in 2012 with a complete Nationwide schedule and ten Cup races)

Danica Patrick’s Full-Time Move to NASCAR

After dipping her toe into stock car racing the last two seasons Patrick begins the next phase of her career with a full Nationwide and partial Sprint Cup Series season in 2012. She’ll return to the JR Motorsports No. 7 entry and compete for the Nationwide title again under the tutelage of crew chief Tony Eury Jr., Patrick made some progress last year but will have to up her game big time to be considered a contender for the crown. However winning a race is not out of the question particularly at Daytona and Talladega where Patrick has been impressive in her short NASCAR career. The ten Cup starts for Tony Stewart’s team will be nothing more than on the job training for her full assault at NASCAR’s top series in 2013. Patrick will as always bring attention to herself and in turn the sport, but she will need to perform at a higher level or quickly feel the wrath of critics tired of the NASCAR version of “Tebow-Mania” that surrounds her.


Kurt Busch Joining Phoenix Racing

Busch gets the chance to “put the fun back in his career” with a program at Phoenix Racing that will include the full Sprint Cup Series schedule as well as a handful of Nationwide Series starts for the team. Team owner James Finch will give Busch decent equipment and support from his relationship with Hendrick Motorsports. But whether the former Sprint Cup champ’s considerable talent behind the wheel is enough to elevate the team up to another level will be tested. Of course there’s also the challenge for Busch to maintain his composure and emotion through the inevitable tough times that always face a small independent operation like this one. Some believe Busch will win races and contend for a Chase spot while others don’t see him lasting the full year with the 51 car. Either way it will be fascinating to watch unfold.


Can Dale Earnhardt Jr. Finally Win?

Love him or hate him – and there are thousands of fans on both side of that equation – NASCAR’s popularity rides a lot on Junior’s exploits. He enters the new season winless since 2008 and determined to end that drought. Earnhardt’s performance was greatly improved last season when his first year paired with new crew chief Steve Letarte ended up in a Chase berth, his first playoff appearance in three seasons. Was it a flash in the pan or something Earnhardt can build on for this year? Earnhardt contending for wins, a spot in the Chase and a championship is good for NASCAR both inside the sport and with mainstream sports fans.


The On-Track Product and Overall Competition

I’ve gone on record calling last season the best in NASCAR’s sixty-plus year history. A championship decided by a tiebreaker was the icing on a cake that saw close competition, entertaining storylines, lots of drama and an overall exciting season in 2012. There were a few stinkers along the way but a year that saw eighteen winners and five first time trips to victory lane has set the bar pretty high.  All of the off season personnel maneuvering along with the plate racing rule changes and introduction of fuel injection have infused an unknown element into the coming year.  Will it live up to last season’s banner campaign?


The Impact of the Business of NASCAR

Sponsor issues and the lack of corporate funding have significantly impacted all three of NASCAR’s top divisions. The contraction in the garage area more than likely will continue until the economy turns around and more companies are capable of spending money in the sport. But other business issues such as television ratings and their ramifications to a new broadcast deal being negotiated in two years to the sanctioning body reclaiming its digital rights to widen the sport’s exposure online and through digital devices will all have a major bearing on where NASCAR is headed in the immediate and long term future.

For more NASCAR news, rumors and analysis, follow @PPistone on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed 

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Posted on: January 10, 2012 4:47 pm
Edited on: January 10, 2012 5:03 pm

Odds favor Jimmie Johnson as Sprint Cup champ

By Pete Pistone

Jimmie Johnson's championship drought will last only one season according to the oddsmakers.

The folks at Bovadalv have installed Johnson as the favorite to win the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship at 9-2.

Last year's runnerup Carl Edwards is at 6-1 while defending champ Tony Stewart enters the new year as 8-1 to repeat:

Odds to win the 2012 Sprint Cup Championship   

Jimmie Johnson 

Carl Edwards

Kyle Busch

Kevin Harvick

Tony Stewart

Denny Hamlin

Jeff Gordon

Kasey Kahne

Matt Kenseth

Clint Bowyer

Brad Keselowski

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Greg Biffle

Kurt Busch

Ryan Newman

Jeff Burton

Juan Pablo Montoya

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Posted on: January 6, 2012 9:22 pm
Edited on: January 6, 2012 11:31 pm

Tony Stewart's team partner being sued

Posted by Pete Pistone

A Miami-Dade lawsuit over a real estate deal gone awry could put a significant dent in NASCAR team owner Gene Haas' Sprint Cup championship spoils.

According to the Miami Herald Haas, who co-owns Stewart-Haas Racing with Tony Stewart, made the winning bid on two multimillion-dollar Golden Beach mansions at a public auction just days before NASCAR's season-ending race in Homestead. Yet the sellers of the homes, brothers Robert and Steven Fox, say Haas -- through a proxy -- reneged on the deal, and in turn forfeited the $1 million deposit that auction rules mandated be paid up front.

"He simply refused to sign the contracts," said attorney Eric Isicoff, who is representing the Foxes in the suit."In my 30 years in this business, this is the first time this has ever happened," added auctioneer (and Pompano Beach Mayor) Lamar Fisher, who handled the sale.

Calls to Haas' attorneys by the newspaper, both in Fort Lauderdale and in California, were not returned Wednesday. A spokesman for Haas' primary business, the machine-tools company Haas Automation, declined comment. 

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Posted on: December 16, 2011 4:28 pm
Edited on: January 17, 2012 11:12 am

2012 Sprint Cup Series crew chief changes

By Pete Pistone

Teams have been changing crew chiefs at a record pace and the line-up for the 2012 Sprint Cup Series season already has a very different look to it.

You can keep up with this regularly-updated chart outlining changes as they are announced:

Joe Gibbs Racing – No. 20 Toyota (Joey Logano)

In: Jason Ratcliff gets the call to take over crew chief duties for Joey Logano who enters the 2012 season on the heels of a disappointing year. Ratcliff has had great success in the JGR Nationwide program and has helped guide both Logano and Kyle Busch to multiple victories. He now gets a shot at the Cup series as management promotes from within rather than go outside the organization.

Out: Greg Zipadelli was granted his release and now rejoins Tony Stewart this time as Director of Competition with Stewart-Haas Racing. Zippy was never able to get Logano to the next level of his career despite enjoying tremendous success while serving as Stewart’s crew chief during their time together at JGR. He still had one year left on his contract but rather than keep spinning its wheels, the team decided to allow Zipadelli to leave and give the 20 team a fresh start.

Our Take: Logano enters next season as a make or break year and it was clear he and Zipadelli weren’t on the same page. A new voice in Ratcliff from atop the war wagon can’t hurt but the duo will have their work cut out trying to rebound from a disastrous effort in 2011.

Joe Gibbs Racing – No. 11 Toyota (Denny Hamlin)

In: Darian Grubb didn’t waste any time in finding employment after he parted ways with Stewart-Haas Racing and Tony Stewart’s championship-winning No. 14 team. Rather than return to his roots at Hendrick Motorsports in an engineering role that was offered, Grubb will climb back up on the pit box to call the shots for Hamlin. 

Out: Mike Ford went from eight victories and a whisker of the Sprint Cup champion in 2010 to the unemployment line the following season. When the wheels came off Hamlin’s title run in the second to last race of the year in Phoenix, the No. 11 team was never quite the same and suffered through a miserable follow up campaign. 

Our Take: Grubb has the talent and in a very short crew chief career has scored wins with Jimmie Johnson, including a Daytona 500 victory, and taken a Sprint Cup championship with Stewart. Now he faces the challenge of trying to get Hamlin back to the force he was in 2010 while also dealing with the many issues that plagued JGR’s engine program last season. Grubb will be up for the test but will have his work cut out for him.

Stewart-Haas Racing – No. 14 Chevrolet (Tony Stewart)

In: Steve Addington punched his ticket out of Penske Racing days after the season ended to take the opportunity to work with Stewart on the championship-winning team. Addington has had a successful career despite dealing with the talented and emotional Busch brothers – Kyle, when he was at Joe Gibbs Racing and Kurt last season at Penske. Stewart is also known for his emotions but Addington is well-equipped to deal with it after his recent at-times tumultuous experiences with the Busch boys.

Out: Grubb couldn’t save his job even after helping Stewart win five races in the Chase and the title. The decision to go in a different direction was made well before Stewart eventually won the championship in Homestead and despite the success there was no turning back in the parting of ways. 

Our Take: Addington and Stewart have a relationship from both their days at Gibbs as well as their early short track careers. They’ve remained friends over the years and share a similar connection that should clock together as driver-crew chief pretty quickly. The tools and resources are there for Addington to pick right up where Grubb left off.

Penske Racing – No. 22 Dodge (A.J. Allmendinger)

In: Todd Gordon gets the call from Roger Penske to move over from the team’s successful Nationwide Series program, where he led the No. 22 Dodge to six wins a year ago, to the Sprint Cup effort. Like his counterpart at the Penske No. 2 entry Paul Wolfe, Gordon will get a chance to prove himself after working his way up through the organization. 

Out: Addington was admirable in the way he dealt with the turmoil around the team last year and Busch’s well-publicized emotional outbursts. Despite the controversy, Addington and Busch did win two races and make the Chase proving at times to be a formidable pairing.

Our Take: Gordon is a bright talent and will work well knowing the ins and outs of the “Penske Way.” Now that Allmendinger has been named driver the two can begin working on chemistry and their relationship. Both are young and will more than likely benefit from a fresh start and perspective. The duo take over a ride that won twice last year and made the Chase so expectations will be high and a good start to the season will go a long way in helping build confidence with the entire team.


Richard Childress Racing – No. 29 Chevrolet (Kevin Harvick)

In: Shane Wilson comes back to work with Harvick as the duo team up again in their careers. The two won the Nationwide Series together in 2006. Wilson most recently was Clint Bowyer’s crew chief at RCR and after moving into another role inside the team now gets another shot to work in NASCAR’s top division this time with Harvick. 

Out: Gil Martin was able to get Harvick to victory lane multiple times in the last two seasons and made the Chase, nearly winning all the marbles in 2010. But things soured internally with the team last season and Harvick voiced his concerns to team owner Childress who decided to pull the plug on Martin, who will stay with the organization but move into a management role for the time being. 

Our Take: Harvick can be prickly to work with and Martin may have found out the hard way. Wilson has the advantage of previously working with Harvick and tasting success in the Nationwide title run. Pit road miscues doomed the No. 29 team many times last year and that will need to be eradicated by Wilson in a hurry if Harvick is to return to championship contention.


Richard Childress Racing – No. 31 Chevrolet (Jeff Burton)

In: Drew Blickensderfer comes to RCR from Roush Fenway Racing, where he had spent his entire NASCAR career. Blickensderfer was a valuable commodity to Roush in both its Nationwide and Sprint Cup programs, most recently working as crew chief for Matt Kenseth and then David Ragan.

Out: Luke Lambert was the interim crew chief for Burton after Todd Berrier was released around mid-season. Lambert and Burton did begin to make significant progress down the stretch of the schedule with several top ten runs to their credit and a near victory at Talladega in October.

Our Take: Blickensderfer is a hot commodity and brings a great deal of enthusiasm to the job. He clicked very well with the relatively young Ragan at RFR, a partnership that resulted in a July Daytona win, but now teams up with the seasoned veteran presence of Burton. It’s an intriguing pair that might be one of the surprises in the coming campaign.


Michael Waltrip Racing – No. 15 Toyota (Clint Bowyer)

In: Brian Pattie got shuffled out of the crew chief role for Juan Pablo Montoya about mid-season in favor of Jim Pohlman. Pattie remained inside Earnhardt Ganassi Racing for the balance of the year but jumped at an opportunity to crew chief once again when Waltrip’s team expanded to three cars and brought Bowyer into the fold. 

Out: Pattie steps in to fill the crew chief position for the brand new No. 15 entry. 

Our Take: When Pattie methodically guided Montoya into the 2009 Chase with a carefully calculated regular season game plan he turned a lot of heads in the garage and many applauded his talent. Things didn’t go too well in the two follow-up efforts but Pattie is still regarded as a forward-thinking crew chief who has a chance to make an even bigger name for himself if he can get Bowyer into the Chase in year one.

Earnhardt Ganassi Racing – No. 42 Chevrolet (Juan Pablo Montoya)

In: Chris Heroy brings his engineering background to the crew chief position replacing the Brian Pattie/Jim Pohlman combo that split duties for the team last year. 

Out: Team owner Chip Ganassi made it pretty clear he wasn’t going to go into 2012 with the same lineup that was so disappointing last season so moving Pohlman out of the spot didn’t come as much of a surprise. 

Our Take: Heroy is an unknown commodity and steps into a difficult job of trying to right the ship. The entire EGR team including Montoya’s teammate Jamie McMurray endured a miserable season it will take a huge effort all the way around to get back to being competitive on a regular basis.


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Posted on: December 16, 2011 9:39 am
Edited on: December 16, 2011 11:03 am

Greg Zipadelli reunites with Tony Stewart

By Pete Pistone

Greg Zipadelli, winner of two championships and 34 victories as a crew chief in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, has been named competition director at Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR). He will work with Vice President of Competition Matt Borland and oversee the Nos. 14 and 39 teams, while also building the No. 10 team for which Danica Patrick will run a 10-race Sprint Cup schedule with in 2012.  

Zipadelli comes to SHR from Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) where he served as crew chief for the No. 20 team since 1999. It’s where the 44-year-old from Berlin, Conn., began a 10-year tenure with Tony Stewart, the co-owner of SHR along with Gene Haas, founder of Haas Automation. 

From 1999 through 2008, Zipadelli was Stewart’s crew chief, with the duo winning Sprint Cup titles in 2002 and 2005 while claiming 33 victories and 10 poles. When Stewart left JGR following the 2008 season to form SHR, Zipadelli stayed and spent three years as the crew chief for Joey Logano, where he helped deliver Logano’s first career Sprint Cup victory on June 28, 2009 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon. 

“We’re very proud to have Greg Zipadelli join Stewart-Haas Racing,” said Stewart, the three-time and reigning Sprint Cup champion. “Greg and I have a long and successful history together. I know him and he knows me, and we both know what it takes to build race teams. 

“We took our time in searching for a competition director because it’s an important role with a lot of responsibility. Greg knows all that goes into the job, understands the importance of teamwork and communication across all levels of the organization, and is ultimately someone I have a great deal of trust in.” 

The addition of Zipadelli to the SHR family is a reunion on two fronts – Stewart, of course, but also with Steve Addington, who spent 2004-2008 at JGR and is now Stewart’s crew chief at SHR with the No. 14 team. (Tony Gibson serves as crew chief for the No. 39 team and driver Ryan Newman.) 

“Joe Gibbs always says that you win with people, and Tony Stewart is a winner,” Zipadelli said. “We won a lot together at Joe Gibbs Racing, and it was a sad day when he left. But Tony had an unbelievable opportunity with Stewart-Haas Racing, and he’s obviously made the most of it. To become a part of what he’s already built, but to do it in a new role with a new set of responsibilities, was a challenge I wanted. I really appreciate Joe and J.D. Gibbs for all that that they’ve given me over the years and for allowing me to seize this opportunity.”

Zipadelli’s career began humbly. His first job in racing was working on a NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour car owned by his uncle at age seven, and by age 14, he was preparing racecars for his family-owned Sherwood Racing Team.  

By the time he was 20, Zipadelli was a championship-winning crew chief, leading Modified Tour driver Mike McLaughlin to the series title on the heels of five wins and 15 top-five finishes. When McLaughlin moved up to the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East with prominent New England car owner Mike Greci, Zipadelli followed and the tandem recorded five wins between 1990 and 1993. 

McLaughlin departed Greci’s operation at the end of the 1993 season, but Zipadelli stayed with the team and worked with a handful of drivers in 1994 and 1995. Zipadelli’s perseverance paid off in 1996 when driver Mike Stefanik joined the team. While no wins were recorded that year, eight top-five and nine top-10 finishes made way for a championship season in 1997. Stefanik marched to the series title that year riding a wave of consistency with two wins, 14 top-five and 16 top-10 finishes, giving Zipadelli his second NASCAR touring series championship in less than a decade. 

With two championship rings before age 30, Zipadelli headed south in January 1998 to join Roush Fenway Racing’s Sprint Cup operation as the chassis specialist for the No. 99 team of then driver Jeff Burton. As Burton won two races, earned 18 top-five and 23 top-10 finishes and finished fifth in points, Zipadelli’s talent was noticed. 

In late 1998 when team owner Joe Gibbs began laying the groundwork for a second team with Stewart behind the wheel, he tabbed Zipadelli to be the No. 20 team’s crew chief. Now, after 13 highly successful years at JGR, Zipadelli’s career ascension continues with his new role as competition director at SHR.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com