Stewart Extends Contract with Joe Gibbs Racing Through 2009 HUNTERSVILLE, N.C., (Aug. 28, 2003) - Reigning NASCAR Winston Cup Series champion Tony Stewart agreed to terms of a contract extension with Joe Gibbs Racing that will keep him behind the wheel of the #20 Home Depot Chevrolet through 2009. "I'm happy to have all of this worked out," said Stewart in regard to his new contract. "Joe Gibbs and everyone associated with Joe Gibbs Racing have been very good to me in the seven years I've been here. They've always given me everything I need out on the race track, and they've always been there to support me off the track as well. It's a very tight-knit group of hard-working people, and I look forward to spending another six years with them.
"The same is true with Home Depot, who I can honestly say has been the best sponsor I've had in all my years of racing. They're not just a sponsor to our race team, they're a partner and a friend."
Stewart has driven for Gibbs since 1997 when he ran five NASCAR Busch Series races while running a full-time Indy Racing League schedule. After winning the IRL championship, Stewart ran a slate of 22 Busch Series races in 1998 - while still balancing the demands of a full IRL schedule - in preparation for an assault on the NASCAR Winston Cup Series in 1999. Stewart didn't disappoint, winning the Rookie of the Year title on the heels of three wins and two poles, for what was then a rookie record. In the four years since, Stewart has scored 13 more victories, culminating with last year's Winston Cup championship. He now has 16 wins, seven poles, 61 top-fives and 97 top-10s in 164 career Winston Cup starts heading into Sunday's Mountain Dew Southern 500 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway.
"Our record of success is pretty impressive," said Stewart, "and you don't just walk away from that. I did have some very flattering offers, and it felt good to be a wanted man, but Joe Gibbs Racing and Home Depot wanted me too, and staying at a place I call 'home' just made sense. "We've won a lot in our five years together in Winston Cup, and we've got a lot more wins ahead of us. I just want to thank Zippy (crew chief Greg Zipadelli), Joe and everyone at Joe Gibbs Racing and Home Depot for standing by me and giving me all the time I needed to make the right decision."
"Obviously, we're very happy to have Tony with us for the foreseeable future," said Gibbs. "Along with Home Depot, he's been an important part of our organization for a number of years, and we're thankful that's going to continue."