Saturday, April 26, 2008

It is not really a question of loyalty

TALLADEGA, Ala. - Let's talk about loyalty a little bit.

There's already talk out there that Tony Stewart shouldn't even be thinking about leaving Joe Gibbs Racing when his contract ends after 2009 - or before. That's because, this reasoning goes, the Gibbs team has been extremely loyal to Stewart over the years.

There's no arguing that team owner Joe Gibbs has had Stewart's back any number of times when the driver has had some difficult moments in his NASCAR career.

But let's be honest here.

The relationship has certainly been mutually beneficial. Stewart is one of the best race car drivers alive today and he's helped, in a major way, the Gibbs team become one of stock-car racing's elite operations.

Let's be clear, too.

The last time Stewart's contract was coming up for a new deal, he could have signed for more money with another team. He didn't do that because he was loyal, at least not entirely.

All things considered, Stewart felt his best opportunity to continue to be successfull was right where he was, and he and the team have both enjoyed the benefits.

There are a lot of people working at Joe Gibbs Racing who've been there for a long time, and loyalty is clearly valued at that company.

But let's also not get all misty about that.

Bobby Labonte? J.J. Yeley?

When it came time to make the tough decisions that sometimes need to be made in a business, they got made.

It won't be easy for Stewart to leave Joe Gibbs Racing, if ultimately that's what he chooses to do.

But if he looks at all of the options that are going to be presented to him and chooses to go elsewhere, he won't be turning his back on anybody or anything.


Anonymous said...

David - You're right. It's been a two-way street between Stewart and Gibbs for 10 years. Though I would prefer he stay at JGR, if Tony gets a better offer that he is happy with, he should take it. He'll be 37 years old next month. If ownership is what he wants, maybe now is the time to go for it. With enough money, hiring the right people and getting support from a good engine builder, Tony might be able to be successful his first year.

Anonymous said...

this is just a negotiating plot, just like he used Ganassi the last time around when his contract was up to get JGR to up their offer.

Monkeesfan said...

I'm not sure anyone could realistically hold it against Stewar if he chooses to leave. I haven't seen any partiular animosity between the two sides here.

I will say that Stewart, if he decided to become an owner-driver will fail at such like the others who've tried it since Alan Kulwicki's death. There is simply far too much an owner has to deal with (in costs, dealing with sponsors, etc.) to be able to drive the racecars while owning the team.

Anonymous said...

If this is a negotiation ploy though it shows what kind of shallow human being Tony really is when he cant be up front and honest with the very people who have made his career what it is.

Anonymous said...

JackBauer - I agree that JGR has HELPED Tony with his career. However, I also believe that Tony has HELPED JGR be what it is today.

I think most drivers try the negotiating ploy. They wouldn't be very smart if they didn't. However, Tony probably didn't realize how much interest there would be for his services, including the ownership offers. And from what I understand he has been upfront with JGR about these offers. He was offered a lot more money from Ganassi last time his contract was due. But he decided to stay with Gibbs.

It would be awfully dumb for Tony not to listen to all the things other teams want to throw at him. If he is offered "a deal of a lifetime", do you think he should turn it down?

Anonymous said...

I can't disagree with the feeling of Stewart being shallow, but is he more a diva than shallow?

Stewart made his own career by virtue of his driving talent, much like another new driver in the JGR garage these days. He may not have that winning personality but Gibbs has his plan B in the hat already, which makes me wonder if that wasn't Gibbs opening chess move?

Stewart is already a successful team and track owner, so he must be aware of what it will take to succeed at that level if that kind of offer actually does sway him.

But more importantly, loyalty is contract induced from a mutually beneficial financial arrangement that makes both Stewart and JGR money by their mere association so don't be fooled by a term such as loyalty.

It can still be had, but the reality of the situation takes precedence as I'm sure all the lawyers on all sides are pointing out these days.

But the question that remains for me is whether last years emotional outburst by Tony Stewart about wanting out of racing was just that, or a precursor of an excellent chess move to generate this exact scenario we're seeing now?

Anonymous said...

Although I am not a Stewart fan I have to say he seems to be a very good business person. I can't blame him for looking at the options. And he has been honest with Gibbs. I think the combination of JD taking over and switching to Toyota have made an impact on Tony. That and Kyle coming to the team. If you want to talk loyalty how about Gibbs leaving Chevy? How many championships did they have with them.

Anonymous said...

I think Tony is playing the fans, media and JGR like a violin and loving every minute of it. At least THIS time it's not because he is in trouble or has said something controversial. He has a year to explore his options and who can blame him. It's not like he is feuding with a step mom or anything like that.

Anonymous said...

Maybe it is about Chevy. Smoke has more irons in the fire than just his Cup ride. He isn a position where some things are more important than money.

Anonymous said...

JackBauer - "If this is a negotiation ploy though it shows what kind of shallow human being Tony really is when he cant be up front and honest with the very people who have made his career what it is."

Please spare me. And you wouldn't do the same thing in a similar situation?

You wouldn't tell the showroom salesman you got such-and such price quote from down the street?

You wouldn't ask for more salary from the boss and just happpen to mention what the Other Company has offered.?

Yeah riiiight. And I believe in Unicorns, Hillary speaks nothing but the truth, the whole truth and... Big Foot is really a mascot for the Footlocker show stores.

Anonymous said...

Anon said - "Maybe it is about Chevy. Smoke has more irons in the fire than just his Cup ride. He isn a position where some things are more important than money."

Sorry the Chevy loyalty thing doesn't wash.

Smoke has run Chevys/GM in Cup since moving into the sport, however I ask where was the Chevy "loyalty" when he ran Dodge power in his Sprint Car and Midget teams.

Loyaltiy has zero to do with it... winning does and in Tony's case he also is at a point he has to look at the sport after he retires.

Anonymous said...

I've never been able to understand why some fans feel that drivers should forever remain enchained to the first team that offered them a big-time contract. That's not employment, its indentured servitude.

Tony has as much right as any other free person to choose his employment (the term for people who cannot choose their employment is "slave", not "Nascar driver"), and just as much right as anyone to put potential employment offers through a competitive bidding process.

Anyone who says otherwise had better still be working for the same company that first hired a green, unskilled kid off the street and have never once sought to improve his own lot in life by so much as asking for a raise. Hypocrites!

Anonymous said...

I don't have a problem with Stewart looking or taking other offers. His loyalty should be to take care of himself, his family and whoever he decides to take with him.
I think the only thing that's annoying here is Tony doing it through the media. I won't accuse him of leaking it as nothing's secret when more than 2 people know about it normally. But I hate to hear him talking about getting out of his current contract in the media. How about just a "no comment" or "I want to focus on doing the best job I can at JGR right now"?

Anonymous said...

I hope he is feeling guilty about his boss throwing GM under the bus After all did not NASCAR let GM build their motors the past 5 to 6 years to win most the races and championships. Toyota is a company that wants to sell cars not engines of parts like GM Ford and Dodge does. Guess they will be running Toyo tires next with Audi BMW Honda following along. Tony should go back to a GM team to show he has a little bit of loyalty. I for one am already sick of the Toyotas show.