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Volume 24 No. 214
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Tony Stewart Says SHR Unsure Of Patrick Replacement, But Bullish On Smithfield Deal

Tony Stewart said he and his team at Stewart-Haas Racing "don't know exactly" who will replace Danica Patrick in the No. 10 car next season in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, "but we are working on it." Stewart said SHR is "excited about" the new partnership with Smithfield for the No. 10. Stewart: "They’ve been great to work with so far and they’re really excited about that partnership." Regarding the uncertainty around the No. 41 car and Kurt Busch, whose option for next season has not been picked up, Stewart said it is "kind of still up in the air, and the reason that we didn't exercise Kurt's option wasn't because we don't want him there." Stewart: "We fully intend on having him next year, but it's obviously dictated on sponsorship. These cars don't run themselves and it costs a lot of money to do it so we need to make sure we have sponsorship for that car before we commit to him for next year." Stewart said the plan is to have Busch "in that car next year with Monster and Haas Automation.” Meanwhile, Stewart said of Aspen Dental, which sponsored Patrick this year for multiple races, “They are a great company. I have had a lot of fun with them and they're really good at thinking outside the box. When you are talking about a dental company as a sponsor, you don't go to grocery stores and have promotions or car dealerships, so some of the promotions we’ve had have been a lot of fun" (“NASCAR America,” NBCSN, 9/19).

OPEN IT UP: The AP noted Chip Ganassi Racing will "return to a two-car team in the IndyCar Series next season in a business decision the team owner said led to layoffs." Ganassi has "fielded four teams in IndyCar the last several years." Only Scott Dixon will "return to the program next season, in the No. 9." Ganassi said that the driver of the No. 10 "will be announced later." It is "widely believed" that Brendon Hartley will "take over that seat." Tony Kanaan is "expected to move to A.J. Foyt Racing, and it is not clear what Charlie Kimball and Max Chilton will do next season." The team is "recovering from the loss of longtime sponsor Target, which is also leaving NASCAR at the end of this season" (AP, 9/20).