The rumor mill is once again in high gear this silly season. First Tony Stewart announces that he'd like to take a crack at team ownership, and that will not be an option with his current team, Joe Gibbs Racing. Tony has driven his entire Cup career in the fabled 20 Home Depot car, with the same crew chief. With two Cup champions and numerous wins under his belt, Tony is likely to be welcomed as an investor as well as a driver for many teams out there. Stewart did stipulate that he would like to return to Chevrolet though, so that will narrow the field somewhat.
Rumors abounded that Martin Truex Jr. would leave Dale Earnhardt Inc. as soon as the end of 2008, and has been rumored to be driving next year, or sometime in the near future, for teams such as Richard Childress, Joe Gibbs, and I've even see Jack Roush's name thrown in the pot. The latest rumor that concerns Truex though, is that he will be a driver for JR Motorsports new Cup program, which will be owned by Dale Earnhardt Jr. Last week, Dale Jr. said in an interview that having a Cup team next year was a definite possibility.
The reasoning behind this move makes sense, and Dale Jr. has thought it out well. Next year, the Nationwide series, in which his cars currently run, will move to a new car, much like the Car of Tomorrow. Dale Jr. has said that it doesn't cost much more to run a Cup team than a Nationwide team these days, and sponsorship will probably be easier to find in the Cup. Dale Jr. thinks that if he's going to have to re-tool his shop to produce the COT, why not just roll out a Cup program? In my opinion, that makes perfect sense.
During the interview, Earnhardt Jr. was asked if Martin Truex Jr. would be a part of the new cup team. Dale Jr. answered in the negative, and expanded by saying that Martin would be better off staying where he was, because a brand new Cup team invariably experiences some problems, and that it just wouldn't make sense for Truex to be a driver for JRM, at least not right out of the box. I think that makes sense as well, because whether Truex stays at DEI or not, there are plenty of other established teams out there that would be more than happy to give Martin a ride.
Tony Stewart might be a different scenario, however. Tony has expressed an interest in team ownership, and I don't know Dale Jr.'s feelings about having another driver buy into his team, but I imagine that even if you have as much money as Dale Jr. has, you still don't want to spend more on your business ventures than you have to. Two owners sharing the costs is cheaper than one owner footing the entire bill. Business is business, and I imagine Dale Jr. is at least thinking about having an investor, and old friend Tony Stewart might just be the perfect business partner.
Stewart, as a driver, is still as competitive as ever, and badly wants to win more races and championships. However, Tony is at a point in his career where he no longer has to prove anything to anyone, and if he's willing to take on the challenge of hammering out a brand new team, especially if he's got a stake in the ownership, I can't think of anyone better to take on the job. It would fulfill two of Tony's wishes, in that he would be back with Chevrolet, and he would be an owner. JRM will have the advantage of running Hendrick engines and other equipment as well, so a JRM entry into Cup racing will have a spring board that most fledgling Cup teams don't have. A Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Tony Stewart partnership would attract the best sponsors as well.
Will we be seeing an Earnhardt-Stewart Motorsports in the future? I think it's a definite Maybe!
Looking back at the All Star race, I'd like to congratulate Kasey Kahne for doing what no driver has ever done before by getting into the race by the fan vote, and then winning the entire show.