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Grubb hints at departure from Stewart-Haas

Tony Stewart may or may not win the 2011 Sprint Cup this weekend, but it's looking ever more likely that he could lose the crew chief who propelled him to the front.
Tony Stewart's sudden jump from struggling regular season form - in which he only just managed to make the post-season shootout for the title - to sudden unstoppable juggernaut with four wins in nine Chase races has been little short of phenomenal. And a large part of the credit surely has to go to Stewart's crew chief, Darian Grubb.

It's remarkable then that given Stewart could clinch the title this weekend, it's looking more and more likely that he and Grubb will be splitting up despite the late-season success.

Asked in a media teleconference whether he would still be crew chief for the #14 in 2012, Grubb was notably evasive: "We'll leave that to after Sunday and figure out what's going to happen there. Our goal is to win the championship and we'll decide everything else after that."

Rumours that Grubb was leaving the #14 crew started during the middle of the year, when little seemed to be going right for Stewart on the track while Stewart's team mate Ryan Newman seemed to be faring much better. Stewart, as co-owner of the Stewart-Haas Racing team, was overtly critical of his team's performance for much of this period and speculation began early that this had led to friction between him and Grubb, although performance has done a one-eighty since those dark midsummer days.

So what was it that has transformed the season for the #14?

"We haven't changed anything in the game plan and they way we've been approaching every week. We've been doing the same job since the start of the season," insisted Grubb. "A lot of things just stacked up to where we've had the good data we've needed to have for the last ten races and being able to apply that to the racetrack. Everybody's just digging in a little deeper and working a little bit harder trying to find whatever's left out there for performance."

Grubb was a key hire for Stewart when setting up his own race team in 2009. With SHR relying on a technical alliance with Hendrick Motorsports, Stewart opted to lure Grubb away from Hendrick Motorsports because of his familiarity with the equipment. Grubb insisted that his relationship with Stewart remained still strong three seasons later - although his answer hinted that it might not necessarily be a particularly harmonious one.

"We've gotten to be pretty good friends on and off the racetrack. We've spent a lot of time together. We know each other a little better than we should at times," he added. "We eat, sleep, and live together pretty much half the time at the racetrack, and try to accomplish on the racetrack.

"It's a tough dynamic, kind of a love-hate brother relationship at times," he said. "When you feel each of you needs to do something, but it's the best of times when you can go out there and make things work and get on top of the victory stage and take those pictures with the trophy."

If Grubb does stand down as Stewart's crew chief it's still possible he would stay within the SHR organisation, which has a number of key roles to fill before the start of next season - including a crew chief for the high-profile #10 car that Danica Patrick will be running for the team in ten Sprint Cup races next season, beginning with February's season opener at Daytona.




Related Pictures

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Tony Stewart talks with his crew chief Darian Grubb. [Picture credit: Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR]
Tony Stewart talks with his crew chief Darian Grubb. [Picture credit: Geoff Burke/Getty Images]
Stewart-Haas Racing crew chief Darian Grubb monitoring the fuel-injection tests at Texas in November. [Picture credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images for NASCAR]
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, and Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet, lead a pack of cars during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 14, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, passes Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, to take the lead and win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford, pits during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, and team owner Tony Stewart celebrate winning in Victory Lane after the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, celebrates with his wife DeLana and son Keelan in victory lane after winning during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, celebrates with the trophy in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Marcos Ambrose, driver of the #9 Stanley Ford, poses with his team before his last race, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS, celebrates his victory and the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Sunday, November 16, 2014 winning the final NASCAR Sprint Cup race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS finishes 2nd. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS, celebrates his victory and the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Sunday, November 16, 2014 winning the final NASCAR Sprint Cup race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS finishes 2nd. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS, celebrates his victory and the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Sunday, November 16, 2014 winning the final NASCAR Sprint Cup race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS finishes 2nd. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS, celebrates his victory and the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Sunday, November 16, 2014 winning the final NASCAR Sprint Cup race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS finishes 2nd. (Photo by Christa L Thomas/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS, celebrates his victory and the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Sunday, November 16, 2014 winning the final NASCAR Sprint Cup race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS finishes 2nd. (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, leads Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

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