Greg Zipadelli will reunite with Tony Stewart for the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup season.
Zipadelli, who won two championships with Stewart while both were at Joe Gibbs Racing, has been named competition director at Stewart-Haas Racing. He has 34 victories as a crew chief.
He will work with Vice President of Competition Matt Borland and oversee the Nos. 14 and 39 teams of Stewart and Ryan Newman, respectively, while also building the No. 10 team for which Danica Patrick will run a 10-race Sprint Cup schedule in 2012.
Zipadelli, 44, has been a crew chief at Joe Gibbs Racing since 1999 and most recently worked with Joey Logano team. Jason Ratcliff is taking over as crew chief for Logano.
He worked with Stewart at JGR from 1999 through 2008, winning the Cup title in 2002 and 2005 and earning 33 wins.
“We’re very proud to have Greg Zipadelli join Stewart-Haas Racing,” said Stewart, the three-time and reigning Sprint Cup champion. “Greg and I have a long and successful history together. I know him and he knows me, and we both know what it takes to build race teams.
“We took our time in searching for a competition director because it’s an important role with a lot of responsibility. Greg knows all that goes into the job, understands the importance of teamwork and communication across all levels of the organization, and is ultimately someone I have a great deal of trust in.”
Steve Addington has already been named as Stewart’s crew chief. He worked with Zipadelli from 2004-2008 at JGR.
“Joe Gibbs always says that you win with people, and Tony Stewart is a winner,” Zipadelli said. “We won a lot together at Joe Gibbs Racing, and it was a sad day when he left. But Tony had an unbelievable opportunity with Stewart-Haas Racing, and he’s obviously made the most of it. To become a part of what he’s already built, but to do it in a new role with a new set of responsibilities, was a challenge I wanted. I really appreciate Joe and J.D. Gibbs for all that that they’ve given me over the years and for allowing me to seize this opportunity.”
Zipadelli admits that it was hard to make the decision to move on after spending 13 years with Joe Gibbs Racing. But the opportunity to work with Stewart, and to move up in his career, was just too much to turn down.
“I would say that I was as secure or more secure than most people in the sport where I was, to have an opportunity to work there the rest of my life,” he said. “That’s something everybody dreams about. As far as this, it gives me an opportunity to go to the next step in my life. I’m young but I ran hard as a crew chief as far as I’ve been doing it a lot of years, even before I got to this level, a lot of time, I missed a lot of my family.
“I think this is going to give me, not a lot, but it’s going to give me 10 percent more time with my family, a little more flexibility to do some of the things that I enjoy to do and the biggest thing is a new challenge. I’ve always been the kind of person that I like the next, what’s next, the next challenge. I’ve had a great run at Joe Gibbs Racing, this position had been talked about there but wasn’t going to be available for a while. I looked at it and said, here’s one now for the only person in the sport that I would probably go to work for at this time in my career. Tony’s always been very good to me. I weighed those things out, right now the opportunity was there. Would it be there again? I don’t know. So it kind of just worked out.”
Zipadelli said that he and Stewart have a unique relationship and that he looks forward to working with the driver once more. He has known him for years, says that they share a mutual respect and that Stewart will always know that Zipadelli “has his back.”
The veteran crew chief also said his move could give Logano a chance to shine. With the loss of Zipadelli as his crew chief, the young driver has a chance to more completely step out of the shadow of Stewart and those championships he won in the No. 20 car that Logano inherited.
“I enjoyed my times with Joey very much,” he said. “It was challenging, it was a different role, different style from what I’ve had to do in the past. He’s an amazing young kid, has a lot of talent and he just needs to keep working at it and learning some of this stuff. From the time he came over, I think there was an amazing amount of weight put on that kid to try and fill those shoes which, those are shoes that just don’t get filled.
“We tried really hard to make him feel like those were(not) the things he had to do; he had plenty of time to grow and mature and learn the sport. I think as long as I was there and my group was there, there was still something about that. I believe that he’s got an opportunity, he’s got this year left, that he’s got a great opportunity to prove himself with a completely different level of expectations. I think you’ll see him blossom a lot more this year just because of that.”