NASCAR Notebook

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Associated Press
The NASCAR notebook …
CHARLOTTE ó Tony Stewart’s crew chief would not speculate Tuesday on his future with the race team.
Darian Grubb has led Stewart to four wins in the last nine races, and the Stewart-Haas Racing team goes into Sunday’s season finale trailing Carl Edwards by three points in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship.
But there’s been speculation for months about personnel within the race team as Stewart fired his competition director midway through the season. Grubb has been rumored to be both on the way out and a candidate for the competition director job.
Grubb, who left Hendrick Motorsports at the end of 2008 to join SHR as Stewart’s crew chief, was non-committal when asked if he’ll be back.
“We’ll kind of leave that until after Sunday; we’ll kind of figure out what’s going to happen there,” Grubbs said. “Our goal is to win the championship, and we’ll decide everything else after that.”
Stewart goes into Homestead-Miami Speedway seeking his third NASCAR championship ó his first since he became co-owner of his own team in 2009. If he succeeds, he’ll be the first driver/owner since Alan Kulwicki in 1992 to win NASCAR’s championship.
It’s been a complete turnaround for the No. 14 team, which slumped through the summer.
In August, with Stewart sliding in the standings, he said his team wasn’t worth of taking a spot in the 12-driver Chase field. And, once he made the Chase, he didn’t include himself on the list of viable title contenders.
Then Stewart won the opening two Chase races and has gone round-for-round with Edwards over the last month.
Grubb said the goals never changed, even with all the uncertainty surrounding personnel.
“We’ve still got the same goals we’ve always had, that we want to go out and win the championship, and winning races is the way to do that,” Grubb said. “Obviously, what we’ve done the last nine weeks, we’ve shown we have the capability.”
In addition to competition director, Stewart also must hire a crew chief for Danica Patrick, who will run 10 Cup races for him next season as she prepares for a full 2013 schedule.
NASCAR has penalized Danica Patrick’s crew chief for a rules violation last weekend at Phoenix.
Crew chief Tony Eury Jr. was fined $10,000 on Tuesday and placed on probation through March.
The penalty was for an improperly attached weight on Patrick’s car in the Nationwide Series race on Saturday. Patrick was involved in an early accident and finished 21st.
Patrick is moving to NASCAR full time next season and will run the Nationwide schedule for JR Motorsports with Eury as her crew chief. She’ll also run 10 Sprint Cup Series races for Stewart-Haas Racing.