Title personal for Stewart's crew chief

Stewart triumphed despite strife within team
Tony Stewart (top) and crew chief Darian Grubb are expected to part ways after their Sprint Cup title.

HOMESTEAD, Fla. — Winning the Sprint Cup Series championship became a classic mission for Tony Stewart. For crew chief Darian Grubb, it was all personal.

 

They were able to hide their strained relationship during the Chase for the Championship, particularly in the final six races after Grubb was told he would be fired after Sunday’s race.

Stewart used his experience and guile to apply pressure on points leader Carl Edwards throughout the playoffs, but he took it to a remarkable level in Sunday’s season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

The closer he got to catching Edwards in the standings – and on the track – the harder he pushed.

And when it was clear the only way he could win his third Sprint Cup Series championship was to back up his bravado and win Sunday’s race, that’s exactly what he did.

At the same time, it was difficult for Grubb to celebrate.

While his sense of achievement – and vindication – was apparent, he knows Stewart apparently wasn’t as impressed with his contributions.

“I was told early in the Chase before Charlotte that next year I wasn’t going to be here,” Grubb said late Sunday.

“We just kept fighting and doing everything we had to do every week. It did not change anything. The outcome was going to be.”

Stewart deflected questions about Grubb after the race.

“There’s a lot of things in the off-season and a lot of decisions that have to be made and we wanted to get through this championship battle first,’’ Stewart said. “We’ll sit down as a group this week and figure out the direction of our program.”

Sources said Stewart already has picked Steve Addington, Kurt Busch’s current crew chief, as a replacement.

More

Police: Man charged after crash hurts 22 NASCAR fans

MARTINSVILLE, Va. — Virginia State Police say they've charged a man with reckless driving after a crash injured 22 people in a Martinsville... Read more

Johnson wins Martinsville to gain spot in NASCAR’s finale

MARTINSVILLE, Va. — There was a time this summer when a seventh championship seemed out of reach for Jimmie Johnson.

Then struggling... Read more

Logano back at Martinsville aware of mistakes of last year

MARTINSVILLE, Va. — Joey Logano was initially unrepentant, insistent he had done nothing wrong in a feud with Matt Kenseth that ultimately cost... Read more