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Stewart Showing Leadership Qualities In Abundance

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, May 17 2009
Tony Stewart and his team celebrate their Sprint All-Star Race. (RacinToday photo by Garry Eller) 

Tony Stewart and his team celebrate their Sprint All-Star Race. (RacinToday photo by Garry Eller)

By Rick Minter | Senior Writer

Concord, N.C. – From listening to Tony Stewart talk about winning Saturday’s Sprint Cup All-Star race at Lowe’s Motor Speedway, it’s clear that he’s operating according to a philosophy that will continue to serve him well as a driver/owner.

The recurring theme of Stewart’s comments was: “It’s not all about me.”

Stewart seemed plenty sincere when he said that he was more excited for his organization’s achievement than about what he’d accomplished personally.

“This is just so good for our guys,” he said.  “For Gene (Haas) who took and chance and gave me ownership in his team and believed in us and Joe Custer who has worked really hard in helping us get the right people in the right positions. For all the people that believed in us – the office people, the people with Office Depot and Office Depot, Coca-Cola, Chevrolet and to know that they are behind us 100 percent.  For the guys on the team – there were a bunch of these guys that had never been in victory lane before and that is the coolest part to me…..

“To get them to there for the first time means more than a million dollars does to me.”

Now that he’s second in Cup points and an all-star winner, there’s much being said about Stewart defeating the odds in the gamble he took in leaving a secure job driving Joe Gibbs’ No. 20 Toyota. But Stewart said his co-owner Haas is the one who took the biggest risk.

You really have got to give him the credit for taking the gamble and taking the risk and having us come be a part of this organization like that and trusting us to make some pretty big decisions and personnel changes,” Stewart said. “That’s not something that a lot of people in that position are willing to do and give up that kind of control to let a totally different group of guys come in and all of a sudden start changing things around, but Gene was willing to do that.”

Haas, a long-time team owner in Cup, recently was released from prison after serving time for tax evasion. He was back at the track for the first time on Saturday. Stewart said his main goal going into the weekend was to make his partner proud.

“When Gene got here today, we wanted him to be proud of what we were doing and what we’ve built,” Stewart said. “And he’s been following us every week and knows what the team’s been doing, knows what happens every day at the race track.  We just wanted to have a good night for him. 

“That’s what made Ryan taking the lead there, three wide for the lead at the end, so exciting. It was like, man, we’ve got a shot at getting Gene his first win here on a night first time back.”

Haas did get the win, but with Stewart, who drenched him with champagne in Victory Lane.

“We absolutely soaked him with the giant champagne bottle, but he’ll get over it,” Stewart said, strongly hinting that it won’t be the last time that happens. “He’ll get used to it. (Joe) Gibbs did for 10 straight years. So he’ll get over it, too.”

– Rick Minter can be reached at rminter@racintoday.com. 

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, May 17 2009
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  • Robert Eastman says:

    Tony Stewart may be even a better owner than he is a driver. Saturday night in Victory Lane, Tony first shook hands with each of his pitcrew members, thanking/congratulating them for a job well-done, before he would give an interview to the TV reporter. Mister Motivator Extraodinaire!!! Obviously, Tony’s decade at JGR has been time well spent. Of course most credit is due his parents for instilling their values through their love and nurturing, setting the foundation for Tony’s lifetime of success!
    Everyone has been put on notice…
    SHR IS the next NASCAR SUPER-TEAM!!!