With all of the recent media reports of Tony Stewart considering leaving Joe Gibbs Racing after this season, there’s plenty of speculation as to where he might end up.
The rumors range from Haas CNC to Richard Childress Racing to his own team. But, if Stewart were available, the thought of him going to Hendrick Motorsports, as Dale Earnhardt Jr. did last year, seems like a realistic possibility.
If it is, that leaves Casey Mears as the odd man out. Of Hendrick’s four teams, the other three are proven winners. Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson are champions, while Jr. is the most popular driver in NASCAR. There’s no way that Hendrick lets any one of those three get away. So, where does that leave Mears?
Imagine for a second adding Tony Stewart to that team. It would be like adding Randy Moss to the New England Patriots. A modern day NASCAR dream team. Do you honestly think that if given the opportunity to sign Stewart that Rick Hendrick would choose to keep Mears? I didn’t think so.
Okay, now for reality. Stewart is looking for ownership, something that Hendrick can’t and probably wouldn’t offer. After all, JR Motorsports runs the Busch program, which doesn’t leave much in terms of ownership, unless Stewarts wants to run a truck team.
I think Stewart is going to honor his contract with JGR. That’s not to say he won’t consider leaving once his contract is up, but I have a hard time believing that he will walk away (or ask to) from the man who gave him a chance.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying Stewart won’t end up at Hendrick. I mean, if in 2006 someone said Jr. would be driving for Hendrick in two years, it would have sounded as preposterous as Stewart going to Hendrick does now. And, as 2007 showed us, never say never. But, I do think it is highly unlikely.