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Stewart’s Ownership Ability Is Rooted In Dirt

Rick Minter | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, May 22 2009
 
Driving for Tony Stewart can be a dirty business, says Donny Schatz.

Driving for Tony Stewart can be a dirty business, says Donny Schatz.

By Rick Minter | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

Concord, N.C. – Two guys who know all about Tony Stewart the car owner say they’re not surprised at his early success as a driver/owner in the Sprint Cup Series

Donny Schatz and Kraig Kinser, who wheel Stewart-owned sprint cars on the World of Outlaws circuit, joined Stewart for his media availability at Lowe’s Motor Speedway on Thursday. They’ll be racing at the dirt track across the highway from the speedway Friday night.

Schatz said Stewart is a fun person but a supportive boss – and a good race driver.

“He’s a great person to be around,” Schatz said. “Obviously, they’ve had a team for some time and I’m kind of new to the picture here last year.

“Starting a team from the ground up, he allowed me to have the equipment that I’m used to racing, the different chassis manufacturer, and the different engine builder and some different components. That says right there that he wants to give you what you feel like you need to win. Even though we are one team, we run different things because we have different driving styles, and that’s what he’s about.”

But having the versatile Stewart for a boss means having someone who can’t be fooled about the cars.
“He can get in these cars and make us look bad by going quicker than we do,” Schatz said. “That’s not good for us, but it’s a highlight for him.”

Kinser said Stewart doesn’t get to see him race that much, but he’s still an involved owner.

“Tony gets to see us at the beginning of the year, and we kind of get away from him a little bit, and now we’ve got to shape up a little bit and run good for the boss here this weekend,” he said. “I know we ran at this track here in Charlotte at the end of the year real good, and I just really hope we can finish one-two like we did at the end of the year for TSR.”

Sometimes it takes bad times to establish a good relationship, and for Kinser and Stewart the bad moments came early on.

“I think my relationship really grew with him my first couple weeks on the job,” Kinser said. “I think I totaled two or three of his race cars, right in the first three races of the year. I was really down on myself, and I really didn’t want to start my career with him with me tearing everything up.

“He was OK with it, and he just talked to me and got me really confident again that I was going to get on track. We ended up finishing the year really good and, hopefully, we can get on a roll this year. I know he’s got our backs and, like Donny said, he’ll do whatever it takes to get us to Victory Lane.”

Stewart is using the same philosophy that is propelling his Cup team on the dirt outfits. He hired capable people and delegates the responsibility to them. On his Cup team, one of the key players is competition director Bobby Hutchens. On the WOO circuit, it’s Jimmy Carr, a former driver and crew chief who has been with the team since it was started – with Danny Lasoski driving – in 2001.

“I really think Jimmy is one of the guys who is pretty well rounded as far as knowing how to put a whole organization together from that side,” Stewart said. “We shifted his role from crew chief last year to competition director – kind of the same role as Bobby Hutchens is for us here on the Cup side. We put Jimmy Carr in that position at the end of the season last year, and that gives me somebody I know and have trusted for years that I can call and say, ‘How’s things going?’

“He knows how to have a winning organization, so Jimmy’s now taking care of our USAC operation and the World of Outlaw teams. These guys are pretty self-sufficient on the road. You don’t run 80 weekends a year without being self-sufficient.”

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

Rick Minter | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, May 22 2009
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