LOUDON, N.H. — Tony Stewart has always chafed at the description of his vast racing conglomeration as being an “empire.’’
Something about that never suited Stewart, 42, of Columbus, Ind., a blue-collar racer who traced his open-wheel roots to the dirt tracks of the Midwest. That’s where he became a popular USAC Triple Crown champion in 1995 before going on to greater glory as an Indy car champion in 1997, and later a three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion driver turned team owner, car owner, and track promoter.
“He doesn’t like to call it an empire,” said Eddie Jarvis, a trusted adviser and executive vice president of Stewart’s three-car Sprint Cup team, Stewart-Haas Racing.
Car owner Gene Haas lured Stewart from Joe Gibbs Racing in 2008 when he offered Stewart an equity stake in a team housed in a 144,000-square-foot facility in Kannapolis, N.C., that offered the promise of engine, chassis, and technical support from Hendrick Motorsports.
Stewart quickly expanded SHR into a 190-employee team that provided support for his Cup car as well as those of teammates Danica Patrick and Ryan Newman, who learned Wednesday from Stewart he would not be coming back to the team in 2014 and would be replaced on the roster by Kevin Harvick.
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