SBD/September 4, 2013/Franchises

Stewart Quells Concerns Over Haas' Hiring Of Busch, Will Continue Racing Sprint Cars

Stewart said that he and Gene Haas never argued over Busch's hiring
Stewart-Haas Racing co-Owner and driver Tony Stewart yesterday "defused all of the potentially damaging conjecture, concerns and questions raised a week earlier" when SHR co-Owner Gene Haas "revealed he had angered and annoyed his NASCAR business partner by single-handedly spearheading the hiring of Kurt Busch," according to Nate Ryan of USA TODAY. Stewart gave a "commanding performance in his first news conference" since breaking his leg in an Aug. 5 sprint car crash. Stewart said of Haas' hiring of Busch, "We never argued about it. Gene was so excited about doing this and having his hand involved in it. As his partner, I love seeing him engaged. ... I just expressed my concern about the timing." But Stewart also "delivered a series of underlying messages ... about the stability of his team and relationship with Haas that were calculated without seeming rehearsed." Stewart yesterday showed "he can be composed and tranquil ... when the moment arises," and by doing so "proved again how he has built enormous off-the-track clout as a savvy businessman whose empire includes myriad personal endorsements, racetracks, and teams." Stewart, when discussing Haas' desire to have four teams in '14, "didn't let his emotions betray him in calmly explaining that he'd expect no less from Haas, a magnate known for his maverick streak in building a billion-dollar business." Stewart: "Gene is a self-made success story in the CNC industry, and he's pretty much been a one-man show doing it." Ryan writes Haas next time "even might take Stewart's advice on adroitly handling the media." Stewart: "He's like, 'I'll just wing it.' I'm like, 'No, you can't do that, speaking from experience.' He called me two days later and (said), 'Man, you were right'" (USA TODAY, 9/4).

STAYING PLUGGED IN: The AP's Jenna Fryer wrote the "snafu" around the Busch signing "aside, Stewart has gone to great lengths to remain engaged with all of his businesses during his time on the injury list." Stewart said that "aside from not being able to race, he's only missed one appearance and has held meetings at [business manager Eddie Jarvis'] house over the last three weeks." Stewart is "on pace to run more than 100 races this year" and admitted yesterday that "fatigue had set in around the NASCAR race at Indianapolis in late July." That was "two weeks before the sprint car crash at Iowa" in which he broke his leg. Stewart said that he "planned to return to the track this weekend at Richmond and hinted he'll use a motorized scooter." Fryer noted Stewart is "accustomed to racing as many as six days a week" (AP, 9/3).

ON THE MEND: SPORTING NEWS' Bob Pockrass reported Stewart is "vowing to race sprint cars again and [is] hopeful he will return to the track in time" for the '14 Sprint Cup season. Stewart said, "If I got in a racecar and didn’t wear a helmet and didn’t wear seatbelts, then that would be dangerous. ... But I’m going to go live my life. I’m going to take full advantage of whatever time I’ve got on this earth. I’m going to ride it out to the fullest, and I’m going to get my money’s worth." Stewart "plans to mix in sprint-car races throughout the Cup season." But he said that said he "doesn’t plan to run 70 of those -- his schedule for 2013 -- next year." He added that the "cutback would be for scheduling purposes and to keep him from getting worn out" (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 9/3). In Orlando, George Diaz reports Stewart's crash "didn't leave him with a 'scared straight' moment." Stewart's potential return for the Daytona 500 on Feb. 23 is "fabulous news for the NASCAR Nation," because "stars drive sports, and Stewart is as good as they come in terms of providing starpower." Diaz: "Expect Tony to tone it down a bit. Just don't expect him to quit" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 9/4).
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