Nascar driver Tony Stewart is being released by Joe Gibbs Racing from the final year of his contract. In turn, Stewart is purchasing a 50 percent stake in Haas CNC Racing and will drive for the team in 2009.
Nascar driver, Tony Stewart, after 10 years and two championships, will be ending his relationship with Joe Gibbs Racing in order to buy his own NASCAR team.
Stewart’s contract with JGR runs through 2009, but the team was expected to announce Wednesday that it will release him from his contract at the end of the season. Team owner Joe Gibbs has been trying to sign Stewart to an extension for almost a year, but the popular driver was slow to commit.
Stewart had many options available to him including buying the two-car team of Haas-CNC Racing and driving for other organizations. It gave Stewart options Gibbs couldn’t match, and likely forced the team to grant him his release despite an initial unwillingness to do so.
Mike Arning, a spokesman for Stewart, said an announcement concerning Stewart’s future would be made Wednesday. ESPN.com reported late Tuesday night he would be released from his contract.
“We’re just going to look at everything out there,” Stewart said in April in announcing he’d test the market. “A wise person once told me it doesn’t cost a dime to listen, so right now we’re all ears.”
“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.”
JGR president J.D. Gibbs had hoped to sign Stewart to an extension. “Our hope is we do our job, and he retires here,” Gibbs said at Talladega.
Speculation is that Nationwide Series rookie Joey Logano will move into the No. 20 car vacated by Stewart. However sources confirmed to NASCAR.COM that no decision has been made on who will replace Stewart on the team after this season.
ESPN reports that the team will be renamed Stewart/Haas Racing, and that the deal will make Stewart NASCAR’s highest-paid driver.
Stewart is expected to officially announce his departure from JGR today (July 9), with an announcement about his new venture with Gene and Margaret Haas of Haas CNC racing, expected the following day.
Tony Stewart in 2008 nose to nose with Dale Earnhardt Jr. here.