2011-12-29 / Sports

Stewart And Zipadelli Reunited

By Gerald Hodges

Pictured above are Greg Zipadelli and Tony Stewart in 2008. Pictured above are Greg Zipadelli and Tony Stewart in 2008. Santa came early for Tony Stewart.

Greg Zipadelli, who helped Tony Stewart win two championships and 34 races, was given his release from Joe Gibbs Racing and has been named competition director at Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR).

“It’s great to have Greg join us,” said Stewart, the reigning Sprint Cup champion. “Greg and I have a long and successful history together. I know him and he knows me, and we both know what it takes to build race teams. We took our time in searching for a competition director because it's an important role with a lot of responsibility. Greg knows all that goes into the job, understands the importance of teamwork and communication across all levels of the organization, and is ultimately someone I have a great deal of trust in.”

He will work with Vice President of Competition Matt Borland and oversee the No.14 and No. 39 teams, while also building the No. 10 team for Danica Patrick, who will run a 10-race Cup schedule in 2012.

When Stewart left JGR following the 2008 season to form SHR, Zipadelli stayed and spent three years as the crew chief for Joey Logano, where he helped deliver Logano’s only Sprint Cup victory in 2009.

“Joe Gibbs always says that you win with people, and Tony Stewart is a winner,” Zipadelli said. “We won a lot together at Joe Gibbs Racing, and it was a sad day when he left. But Tony had an unbelievable opportunity with Stewart-Haas Racing, and he’s obviously made the most of it.”

“ To become a part of what he’s already built, but to do it in a new role with a new set of responsibilities, was a challenge I wanted. I really appreciate Joe and J.D. Gibbs for all that that they’ve given me over the years and for allowing me to seize this opportunity.”

Zipadelli will help Patrick’s team prepare for her Daytona 500 debut in February. He might also crew chief all 10 of her Cup races next season if the right candidate is not found.

Roush Racing in, Petty Motorsports out

This past week Best Buy Stores announced they would be moving their sponsorship from Richard Petty’s No. 43 to Roush Fenway Racing.

Best Buy will serve as primary sponsor of Carl Edwards’ No. 99 for two races and Matt Kenseth’s No. 17 for nine races. In addition, the company will serve as associate sponsor for the remaining races.

“Roush Fenway Racing is a great fit. NASCAR continues to be a relevant way for us to connect with our customers,” said Drew Panayiotou of Best Buy. “Our goal is to reach our target audiences in a meaningful way, while maximizing the value of our marketing and sponsorship investments.”

Best Buy has been involved in some form of NASCAR sponsorship for the past seven years.

“We have had a successful and rewarding relationship with Best Buy for the past few years and appreciate all they have done for us,” said Petty. “Although it is very disappointing that Best Buy is changing directions at this late date, we wish all of our friends there the best in their future endeavors.

“ Our plan has always been to run a two-car team in the Sprint Cup Series in 2012 and we are continuing down that path. We have several partners that remain committed to the No. 43 team. We will move forward and explore all of our options in regard to the No. 43 program in the coming weeks.”

Gaughan switching to RCR

Brendan Gaughan and some of his family’s cash are transferring over to Richard Childress Racing.

The 36-year-old Gaughan, who has eight wins in the truck series, will bring sponsorship from his family’s South Point Hotel & Casino for most of the events.

“The last few years, I have been racing for teams that try to buy their engineering or equipment from organizations as great as RCR, but doing that is never the same as racing for RCR,” Gaughan said. “ I have always steered away from switching to a part-time schedule in the past, but I had to look at where I would have the best opportunity to win races again and the opportunity to race for Richard Childress is one I couldn’t pass up.”

Gaughan finished 12th in the trucks driving for Germain Racing in 2011. The two previous years he drove for Rusty Wallace Racing in Nationwide with finishes of ninth and 11th in the standings.

Top-12 driver payouts

Ever wonder how much the top Cup drivers make? Here is what the top-12 drivers earned. This was their total winnings. Most drivers have contracts that allow them to keep from 50 to 60 percent of their gross take. The remainder goes to the car owner.

1. Tony Stewart - $12,671,071; 2. Carl Edwards - $11,351,964; 3. Kevin Harvick - $8,072,369; 4. Matt Kenseth - $7,901,409; 5. Brad Keselowski - $6,503,444; 6. Jimmie Johnson - $7,599,034; 7. Dale Earnhardt Jr. - $5,329,888; 8. Jeff Gordon - $7,126,719; 9. Denny Hamlin- $6,578,688; 10. Ryan Newman - $6,388,178; 11. Kurt Busch - $6,714,991; 12. Kyle Busch- $7,160,043,

Racing trivia question: Car owner James Finch has one Cup victory, which came at Talladega. Who was his driver?

Last week’s question: Which Cup team will Kasey Kahne drive for in 2012? He will drive for Hendrick Motorsports.

Contact the Racing Reporter at hodges@race500.com.

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