Stewart In No Rush

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Stewart in no rush to sign contract extension


HUNTERSVLLE, N.C. - Tony Stewart, who has spent his entire NASCAR Cup Series career at Joe Gibbs Racing, says he is in no rush to begin talks regarding a contract extension with the successful racing operation.



"Right now I just want to get started with this year," Stewart said Tuesday. "I'm really not concerned about the end of '09 right now because we've still got to get through '08.



"Obviously, it's a topic with the team here, and they want to get it taken care of, but right now I want to see how the beginning of this year goes. Get halfway through the season before we even worry about talking about it again."



Stewart's contract ends after the 2009 season. Since moving into Cup at JGR in 1999, he has won two Cup titles (2002, 2005) and 32 races. He finished sixth a year ago after climbing as high as second in points following the second event in the Chase For The Nextel Cup.



A change in manufacturer - the team will field Toyotas in 2008 after a long, successful stint with General Motors products - is of a more pressing concern to the 36-year-old Stewart.



"There's nothing that has to be done right now anyway," he said of contract talks. "I'm here. It's about now to me; it's not about what's going to happen.



"Right now ... we've got a big change with a new manufacturer coming in, let's worry about running good and winning races and worry about the rest of it [later]."



Stewart and crew chief Greg Zipadelli have been paired together since Stewart departed the open-wheel ranks to make the move to NASCAR. The union's longevity has surprised team owner Joe Gibbs.



"I think they both share a passion; they grew up the same way," Gibbs said. "... I think they share a lot in common. Both are real, real competitive. The amazing thing is that they are both a lot alike as far as their personalities. Both of them will spark up on you. But they've been able to hit it off. Hat's off to somebody, because as we all know, that's a tough relationship to keep together.



There have been times, Gibbs said, when he wasn't certain the pairing would last.



"I was worried during races, but not ... once we got off the track," he said. "They both are fiery. Sometimes in races we'd go 50 laps without them talking to each other ... I'd be going, 'Gosh, say something, will you?' "They've got great communication and have been very successful."



Continuing that success, Gibbs said, will be crucial to re-signing his No. 1 driver.



"We know that Tony is someone that's always wanted to win races," he said. "Our job is to always give him the best stuff. Hopefully, that's what we wind up doing here."
 
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