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The Early Lead
Posted at 01:07 PM ET, 11/21/2011

Tony Stewart wins NASCAR Sprint Cup and now needs a crew chief


Tony Stewart celebrates his third NASCAR championship. (Jared C. Tilton / Getty Images)
Tony Stewart didn’t have to wreck anyone’s mom in order to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Now, though, he will have to hire a new crew chief.

Darian Grubb, whose pit call stretched the gas in Stewart’s car to the limit and put him in position to outduel Carl Edwards and win the Ford 400 and Cup on Sunday, won’t be returning.

Stewart, the first owner-driver to win the title race since Alan Kulwicki in 1992, had radioed the crew: “Darian Grubb, you are the … man. You did this, bud.” And after the race, he dodged the question about Grubb’s status. “I know what his status is for the rest of the night, and I'm going to get him drunk. There's a lot of things in the offseason and a lot of decisions that have to be made. Obviously, we wanted to get through this championship first.”

Grubb, according to ESPN, has an offer to return to Hendrick Motorsports as well as another from Michael Waltrip Racing. “It still is [baffling] to me, obviously. I'm not really sure what's going to happen now,” Grubb said. “I was told early on in the Chase, before Charlotte, that I wasn't going to be here next year.”

At that point, Stewart was seventh, with victoriesin the first two races in the Chase. He won three more, taking five of the 10 races in the Chase and winning the championship in an historic and exciting run — a run that’s over now. Stewart said he is taking his 160 employees to Las Vegas to celebrate. That should be fun for Grubb.

First Lady Michelle Obama and Jill Biden, wife of the vice-president, found the Homestead, Fla., race track to be less than hospitable.

By  |  01:07 PM ET, 11/21/2011

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