Published on April 30th, 2008 | by Michael J Smith0
Opinion: Can Gibbs Afford To Let Stewart Go?
In a word? No. Sure Kyle Busch is the hottest driver in NASCAR right now. Sure Denny Hamlin is a threat to win week in and week out. but can anyone honestly look me in the eye and say that it’s no big deal to lose a two-time Cup champion in Tony Stewart? I didn’t think so.
Don’t get me wrong, I think Kyle Busch’s turnaround has been remarkable. He’s been consistently running well (for the most part.) His average finish is 9.9, as of ‘Dega. And, in 9 races this season, he’s won twice, half the number of races he won in three years with Hendrick Motorsports. He also has five top 5s and six top 10s.
When you look at Stewart’s numbers, they aren’t as impressive. Well, for a Cup champion, anyway. He hasn’t won yet this season, and his average finish is 14.8 as of ‘Dega. But, to his credit, he does have three Top 5s and 5 Top 10s.
Then again, Denny Hamlin has four Top 5s and six Top 10s, plus one win. His average finish is 11.1, meaning he is beating Stewart in every category, as well.
But, despite these statistics, Stewart still should not be the odd man out. In addition to being a two-time champion, he runs consistently, and is also a threat to win every week. Why, on Earth would anyone say that a team can afford to lose a winning driver?
If I were a team owner, I’d love to have three drivers capable of winning every week. I’d love to have two young guys who could win me races, and a guy who can win me a championship.
I’m not saying that Gibbs wants to get rid of Stewart. JGR has stated on more than one occasion, that it would like to keep Stewart. But, to suggest that JGR can afford to lose him is foolishness.
Stewart is rumored to want partial ownership, which may influence his decision. So, in the end, it may not matter. But, I still say, Gibbs can’t afford to let Stewart go.