Tony Stewart has now won Sprint Cup Series championships in just about every way possible.
He has won three titles as a driver.
He has claimed an owner’s title when his third series championship in 2011 came after his move to Stewart-Haas Racing, where he is co-owner of his No. 14 Chevrolet team.
Stewart collected an owner’s championship of another sort last Sunday, this time as the owner of his organization’s No. 4 team. Kevin Harvick, who moved to SHR in the offseason, won the series finale at Homestead, Fla., and his first championship.
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Harvick’s championship brought an uplifting end to a tumultuous season for Stewart, who missed three races after his involvement in a tragic racing accident in a dirt car race that killed another driver and failed to win at least one race in a season for the first time in his Cup career.
After Harvick’s win, Stewart spoke about his role as team owner, his season and his thoughts on Harvick’s first championship.
Q Can you talk about the satisfaction you feel from Harvick’s accomplishment this season and for the SHR organization?
A It’s unbelievable. It is so hard to win a championship at this level, and NASCAR in general, and especially with this Chase format. Every week it showed how intense it was, how much pressure there was on the drivers, the crew chiefs, the crew members, pit crews. Just unbelievable how much everything had to go right and how special it was when big moments happened.
To see these guys win at Charlotte was a huge win, and then again at Phoenix, and rise to the occasion. I think it showed why Kevin and Rodney (Childers, crew chief) were championship material and why they’re worthy of being the 2014 champions. It was real evident to me, in their first test at Charlotte, and I got phone calls both nights after the test telling me how it went and the speed that they had. I remember having two tests during the offseason, and those guys were just unbelievably fast at both of those tests. I thought, “This is going to be a great start to the year.”
Q It has been a tough year for you. Can you describe the emotions you’re going through right now?
A You know, I think more than anything, I’m happy for this organization and happy for this team. It’s not about me right now, it’s about us as a group. It’s about everybody at Stewart-Haas Racing. You know, you learn when you’re in these situations that it’s about a larger group of people and a bigger picture that’s in play. I’m grateful that I have a co-owner and co-workers and teammates that are such great people that no matter what’s been thrown at us the last year and a half that this organization was able to thrive and continue to prosper and be successful through this.
It shows the depth of this organization and what these people are capable of. Nights like tonight are when you sit back and you reflect on everything and you realize how proud you are of your entire group and everybody that you surround yourself with.
Q In some of his comments right after the race, Kevin said that he had to give a lot of credit to both you and Jimmie Johnson helping him through this past week. Can you share a little bit of what you helped him with?
A I think it’s so easy for everybody involved to want to do things different this last week – they want to work harder, they want to try harder, they get so focused on making sure that nothing is overlooked. The hard part is you’ve got to do the things that got you here in the first place and not get caught up in the moment, not get out of that rhythm that got you here. I didn’t tell them anything they haven’t been doing all year, but sometimes going into that last deal, it’s nice to just remind them why they’re here and why they do what they do.