Joe Gibbs Racing and Tony Stewart will part ways at the end of the season on good terms, ending an eleven-year successful relationship.
JGR's team president JD Gibbs admitted today's announcement to being a bittersweet moment for him and the team, but wished Stewart success in his wish of becoming a Sprint Cup series owner.
"We've had a lot of success with Tony in our 12 years here at Joe Gibbs Racing," said Gibbs. "While this moment is bittersweet, we're parting on good terms and we know that each of us has benefited greatly from the other.
"We grew to two teams in the Sprint Cup Series with Tony and The Home Depot in 1999, and two championships and 32 wins followed. While our time together is coming to an end, we know there's still a lot of racing left this season and we plan to make the most of it.
"On behalf of everyone at JGR, we're proud of everything we've accomplished together with Tony and we wish him the best in pursuing his dream of NASCAR team ownership."
Stewart also thanked Joe and JD Gibbs for the opportunity they gave him to break into the Sprint Cup in 1999, when he won three races to become one of the best rookies ever in the series before winning the title twice in the following years.
"I cannot thank Joe and JD Gibbs enough for the opportunity they gave me and for the support they've given me throughout my entire NASCAR career," Stewart said. "I've learned so much from them and have a tremendous amount of respect for what they've built.
"I've modelled my USAC and World of Outlaws teams the same way they built their NASCAR team, and I made it a point to find good people to run those programs. If I've learned anything from my time at Joe Gibbs Racing, it's that Joe Gibbs' saying of, 'You win with people,' is incredibly true. They always surrounded me with not just good people, but great people, and the results speak for themselves.
"My crew chief, Greg Zipadelli, is the best example of that. We've accomplished so much in our 10 years together on the track, and off the track, he's been like a big brother to me. It's a friendship I cherish and expect to continue, even while he stays at Joe Gibbs Racing and I move on.
"I also want to thank The Home Depot. We've had a fantastic run with them, and it's not over yet. We can still win races and compete for a championship and go out on top. For 2008, that's my number one goal."
Stewart will also put an end to a ten-year association with sponsor Home Depot, who won't follow him to his new team. Similarly, he will finish his time with crew chief Greg Zipadelli, ending the longest active pairing of driver and crew chief.
"No matter what, Tony and I will remain close friends," Zipadelli said. "I know when it comes to the No. 20 team, things will obviously be a lot different next year, but I remain as committed as ever this year to winning races with Tony and securing our spot in the Chase to contend for a third championship."
"The 20 car has been one of the all-time great partnerships in NASCAR for the last decade with the combination of Tony, Zippy, The Home Depot and Joe Gibbs Racing," said Joe Gibbs, owner of Joe Gibbs Racing.
"While we are losing one piece of the puzzle, we think the No. 20 team will remain strong for many years to come."
JGR has not disclosed who will be Stewart's replacement next season but teenage sensation Joey Logano is said to be the leading candidate for the drive.