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Tony Stewart's team loses key sponsor

Tony Stewart has lost the primary sponsor on the #14 Stewart/Haas Racing car after the end of the current season, with retail chain Office Depot deciding to "significantly curtail" its role.
Reigning champion Tony Stewart may be set to make it into the Chase after next weekend's race at Richmond, but his headaches off the track are mounting as the Stewart/Haas Racing team has lost a second major sponsor.

The US Army had previously announced at the start of July that it would no longer be a primary sponsor on the #39 car driven by Ryan Newman, leaving the team scrambling to find alternative funding to keep that team in business into 2013. (See separate story.)

Now the economic gloom has hit closer to home, with the primary sponsor of Stewart's own #14 car calling it a day. Office Depot provided the running for 22 of the team's 36 Sprint Cup race outings this season, but is not renewing the deal for 2013.

"Office Depot has notified SHR that they will not be renewing as the primary sponsor of the #14 team," said Stewart/Haas spokesman Mike Arning.

"The decision to significantly curtail our relationship with Stewart-Haas Racing was very difficult and one that we did not take lightly," confirmed Office Depot's senior director of communications Mindy Kramer at the weekend. "Tony Stewart has been an exceptional ambassador for our brand, and he has gone above and beyond in everything that he has done for our company. Being a part of his legendary 2011 championship run was a moment of tremendous pride for everyone at Office Depot."

"However, the changing business landscape warrants a realignment of priorities and resources," she added, alluding to a significant downturn in the chain's business over the last two years in the current harsh economic climate, which is putting pressure on their bottom line.

Office Depot may still be involved in a minor way with the team, with Stewart/Haas' Arning insisting that the team was in "continued discussions with Office Depot regarding possible future roles the company could have with the team."

"Regardless of what kind of role we'll have with Tony and SHR, our support for them will not change," insisted Kramer. "The Office Depot family will always be with Smoke, cheering him on to many more championships."

The timing is particularly problematic for the team, coming so late in the current season leaving them little time to find a replacement for the start of 2013.


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Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet, poses with his pole award after he qualified first during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Advocare 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Aug. 31, 2012, in Hampton, Ga. (Photo Credit: Tyler Barrick/Getty Images)
Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet, poses with his pole award after he qualified first during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Advocare 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Aug. 31, 2012, in Hampton, Ga. (Photo Credit: Tyler Barrick/Getty Images)
Tony Stewart signals two wins for the young 2012 season in post-race ceremonies after winning the rain-shortened Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Stewart-Haas Racing team co-owner Gene Haas (Photo Credit: Streeter Lecka/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Stewart-Haas Racing team co-owner Gene Haas (Photo Credit: Streeter Lecka/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Bass Pro Shops / Mobil 1 Chevrolet, and Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford, lead the field past the green flag after the initial caution ended during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 7, 2014 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway)
Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Bass Pro Shops / Mobil 1 Chevrolet, and Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford, lead the field past the green flag after the initial caution ended during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 7, 2014 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images)
The Air-Titan runs on track prior to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 6, 2014 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Bass Pro Shops / Mobil 1 Chevrolet, drives in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 5, 2014 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway)
Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Bass Pro Shops / Mobil 1 Chevrolet, poses with the Coors Light Pole Award after qualifying for pole position for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 5, 2014 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway)
Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane with Ryan Pemberton after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series O`Reilly Auto Parts 300 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 4, 2014 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Trevor Bayne, driver of the #6 AdvoCare Ford, loses control of his car during the NASCAR Nationwide Series O`Reilly Auto Parts 300 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 4, 2014 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
The Goodyear tyre being tested for use at the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. (Photo CreditL Chris Owens/Indianapolis Motor Speedway)
Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 Target Chevrolet, Joey Logano, driver of the #22 AAA Southern California Ford, and Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet, lead a pack of cars during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway on March 23, 2014 in Fontana, California. (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Danica Patrick, driver of the #10 GoDaddy.com / Get Found Chevrolet, talks with Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Rush Truck / Mobil 1 Chevrolet, during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway on March 21, 2014 in Fontana, California. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS finished 4th and Martin Truex, Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row Chevrolet SS finished 36th Sunday, March 16, 2014 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee. Stewart is 23rd, Truex Jr. is 29th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo Credit: HHP/Alan Marler for Chevrolet)
Crew members work on the #20 The Home Depot/Husky Toyota, driven by Matt Kenseth, on pit road after an incident in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway on March 16, 2014 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Drivers and NASCAR Officals stand on the grid during a red flag caused by rain in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway on March 16, 2014 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)

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