Stewart couldn't miss owner chance
|By Diego Mejia||Thursday, July 10th 2008, 22:27 GMT|
Tony Stewart says the opportunity to become an owner in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series was simply too good to miss, after finally unveiling the new Stewart Haas Racing at Chicagoland Speedway on Thursday.
"Obviously this is a huge day for me," Stewart said at the Chicagoland Speedway media centre. "This is a huge turning point in my career obviously but I'm very proud to be today here and announce that myself and Joe Custer with the Haas CNC team have merged and now formed Stewart Haas Racing.
"That's where I'll be next year and hopefully for the rest of my life and my career in NASCAR racing. It was a huge decision-making process obviously, something that was not made overnight.
"This was not something that was easy by any means and we weighed our options heavily as far as what was available out there, what our options were and the opportunity to have ownership in a race team was something that was in my opinion a once in a lifetime opportunity."
Stewart revealed he was first in talks with Haas CNC's Joe Custer at the end of last year about buying into the team before discussions evolved and contracts were signed for him to own a fifty percent stake of the outfit.
Being an owner already of Tony Stewart Racing, which fields four successful teams in the World of Outlaws and USAC Midgets, he said he knows how meaningful it is for him to be instrumental in building up a team and leading it to success beyond his role as a driver.
"Since 2001 when we started our first World of Outlaws team I think as time has gone on I've started to understand the value of it and what it means to me and my life," Stewart said. "I've really enjoyed that aspect of my life over the last seven years.
"Eight years ago when people asked me if I considered ownership in a NASCAR team I said no way. I said I wouldn't be able to deal with the politics but after owning racetracks and having race teams, now I think it's a side of me that I really enjoy.
"And having the opportunity to have a new challenge and to help build an organization and be part of it and knowing that whatever the results are at the end of the day that I'm directly responsible for that as a apart of it. It's something that s important to me."
Stewart also said that when he was offered half of Haas CNC Racing he was presented with the opportunity to take a step forward in his career and have the chance to stay involved in NASCAR beyond his days as a driver.
"When you stop as a driver you don't want to, it's hard to just walk away from the sport, and this gives me an avenue that if the day comes that I can't drive a racecar or don't want to drive a racecar anymore I can still be heavily involved in NASCAR and know what that feeling is like," he said.
"I know what it feels like to win as a driver, I know after winning the Chili Bowl (USAC Midget event) in 2007 what it's like to win as an owner. But to sit there in winner's circle and climb out of the car that I had a part in building that team, I mean, it was a feeling that I never had before.
"And to have that opportunity to do that here with Haas CNC Racing and form this new entity is something that I'm excited about having that opportunity.
"I'm excited about the fact that I feel like we can go to Daytona and we have the opportunity to go there and win the Daytona 500 and stand there and climb out of my own car, with my own guys and my own operation. And be there as champions that way."
Stewart did not disclose who his sponsors will be next year, nor did he reveal who the second driver in the team would be although he said Scott Riggs, who currently drives for Haas CNC was among the names being considered for that role.
Stewart also denied General Motors was part of the deal in giving him the money to own half of the team.