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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)
(Back Row L-R) Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet, Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Toyota, Carl Edwards, driver of the #99 Kelloggs/Frosted Flakes Ford, Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Catepillar Chevrolet, Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford, Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet, Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 Dollar General Toyota, Aric Almirola, driver of the #43 Gwaltney Ford, (Front Row L- R) Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford, Greg Biffle, driver of the #16 3M Call Before You Dig Ford, AJ Allmendinger, driver of the #47 Bush`s Beans Chevrolet, Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet, Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Insurance Chevrolet, and Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet, pose with the Sprint Cup Trophy after qualifying for the Chase for the Sprint Cup during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (Photo Credit: Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
(Back Row L - R) Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet, Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Toyota, Carl Edwards, driver of the #99 Kelloggs/Frosted Flakes Ford, Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Catepillar Chevrolet, Miss Sprint Cup Madison Martin, Miss Sprint Cup Kim Coon, Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Insurance Chevrolet, Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 Dollar General Toyota, Aric Almirola, driver of the #43 Gwaltney Ford, (Front Row L- R) Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford, Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, Greg Biffle, driver of the #16 3M Call Before You Dig Ford, AJ Allmendinger, driver of the #47 Bush`s Beans Chevrolet, Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet, Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford, Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet, and Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, pose with the Sprint Cup Trophy after qualifying for the Chase  (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/NASCAR via Getty Images)
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Kyle Busch, driver of the #54 Monster Energy Toyota, and Ryan Blaney, driver of the #22 Hertz Ford, lead the field to the green flag for the running of the NASCAR Nationwide Series Virginia529 College Savings 250 at Richmond International Raceway on September 5, 2014 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images)
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Ryan Blaney, driver of the #29 Cooper Standard Ford, celebrates after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Chevrolet Silverado 250 on August 31, 2014 in Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada. (Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Ryan Blaney, driver of the #29 Cooper Standard Ford, and German Quiroga, driver of the #77 OtterBox Toyota, take the chequered flag during the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Chevrolet Silverado 250 on August 31, 2014 in Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada. (Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Ryan Blaney, driver of the #29 Cooper Standard Ford, races during the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Chevrolet Silverado 250 on August 31, 2014 in Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada.  (Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS, qualified for twelfth position Friday, August 29, 2014 for Sunday`s Nascar Sprint Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia. After a three-race absence, Tony Stewart has returned to the track at Atlanta. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS, qualified for fourth position Friday, August 29, 2014 for Sunday`s Nascar Sprint Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia. Newman is 9th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Tony Stewart at Dover International Speedway on May 30 2014. (Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images for NASCAR Media)
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