What’s next for Tony Stewart, business-wise?

3 Comments

The personal impact of what will happen to Tony Stewart, and how he recovers after the accident at Canandaigua (N.Y.) Motorsports Park, will be interesting to watch.

Additionally, Stewart has a number of vested business interests that could be impacted as well, depending on the outcome of the legal investigation in Ontario County (N.Y.) (see court case here).

In the short-term, Stewart has four more races to make the 2014 Chase for the Sprint Cup. He’s winless since Dover in June 2013; this year, he stands a winless 21st in points and will have to win at least once to be among the 16 drivers in NASCAR’s new for 2014 Chase grid.

[MORE: Stewart’s driving status for weekend is TBD]

Sponsors live and breathe with teams whether their driver makes the Chase; there can be financial incentives in play for making it. Stewart-Haas Racing will have at least two cars, Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch, in the field of 16 thanks to their wins earlier this year. But Stewart’s presence would ensure the team hit its preseason target of getting three of the four SHR cars in the Chase (Danica Patrick aside).

Realistically though, that’s the least of Stewart’s concerns. In the longer term, Stewart’s livelihood and those of the hundreds of families he employs could be at stake (more here from NBCSN contributor Nate Ryan for USA Today).

The legal story will continue, as the investigation into what precisely happened Saturday night beyond witness reports and a YouTube video (we’re not going to link to it out of respect) continues in New York.

The sponsors Stewart has managed to put together for his and Gene Haas’ Stewart-Haas Racing empire, and for the dirt track he owns – Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio – all have to take another step back and say, is this someone we want to be affiliated with?

NAPA pulled out of the Cup level after a mere race-fixing scandal last year. Does Bass Pro Shops, Mobil 1 or anyone else want to look at Stewart and say they don’t want to get dragged through the mud throughout this process?

The sponsor impact is where the families come into play. SHR has gone from also-ran to a top-flight NASCAR championship winning team in five seasons since Stewart and Haas joined forces ahead of the 2009 season.

[MORE: Sheriff says no evidence of criminal intent from Tony Stewart at this time]

It has a four-car operation and if there are any sponsor withdrawals, or scaling back, that will force the team to find new ones to keep all four cars in operation. This would undoubtedly be a tougher task now than 48 hours ago.

The outcome of this process could also have a financial impact on short tracks around the country, where Stewart’s presence could enhance their business. When a megastar like Stewart opts to moonlight at these one-off dirt race events, it generally provides a boost in ticket sales as one of NASCAR’s biggest stars races against local heroes.

But now there will be hard choices – there have to be. The contact between Stewart and Kevin Ward Jr. will have enduring ripple effects that not only affect the individuals, but the bottom line.

Sage Karam, Tony Kanaan fastest in Monday’s practice for Indy 500

IndyCar
Leave a comment

In the second-to-last practice session of the week, Sage Karam paced the 33 drivers qualified for Sunday’s Indianapolis 500 on Monday.

Karam had a field-best speed of 226.461 mph, followed by Tony Kanan (225.123 mph), Ryan Hunter-Reay (224.820), Charlie Kimball (224.582) and Alexander Rossi (224.507).

Sixth through 10th fastest were Will Power (224.445), Helio Castroneves (224.368), Marco Andretti (224.148) and rookie Zachary Claman Demelo (224.91) and Scott Dixon (223.966).

Power and Castroneves ran the most laps of all drivers at 120 and 118, respectively.

Two other Team Penske drivers struggled to get speed out of their cars. Defending Verizon IndyCar Series champion Josef Newgarden was 28th-fastest (221.982 mph) and Simon Pagenaud, who was the slowest (220.902 mph) of the 33 cars on-track.

Pole sitter Ed Carpenter was 14th-fastest with a best speed of 223.573 mph in a 100-lap effort.

Most drivers were in race trim or were testing things for Sunday’s Greatest Spectacle In Racing such as fuel mileage, chassis setup and more.

Rookie Matheus Leist missed most of the session with an apparent electrical problem that kept him to just 19 laps.

There was one incident of note during the 3 ½ hour session: IndyCar rookie Robert Wickens crashed coming out of Turn 2 during the first hour of practice.

Wickens appeared to skim the outside SAFER Barrier, went left and then violently turned hard back into the outside retaining wall.

MORE: Wickens wrecks during Indy 500 practice

The Honda-powered machine for the Canadian driver suffered heavy damage to the right side, particularly the right front tire and the right side of the front end.

There will be no further on-track activity for the Indy cars until Friday’s final practice to fine tune things for Sunday’s 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500.

We’ll have the full practice speed chart, as well as What Drivers Said, shortly. Please check back soon.

Follow @JerryBonkowski