Upon entering the NASCAR Chase for the Cup last fall, Darian Grubb wasn’t fighting for his own job. Weighing his racing experiences trying to get over the .500 hump as Tony Stewart’s crew chief, by the time the chase came around they barely made it. Grubb’s job was already as good as gone. Heads up at Stewart-Haas already began to roll. He was informed that he wasn’t coming back after the 2012 NASCAR season and that his racing experiences with Tony Stewart were beginning to set. “It’s still weird to me to this day to not know exactly what was going on and why the decision was made. It wasn’t any kind of mutual decision or anything like that. I was told I wasn’t going to be back for the 2012 season, so at that point I just started going out there doing the best we could to try to move forward and win the championship.” And he took it in stride and carried out one of the greatest comebacks car racing experiences have ever seen.
Enter Denny Hamlin. After finishing 2nd ad moving to Joe Gibbs Racing, Hamlin finished 9th in the final Sprint Cup standings. Disappointed with the finish Hamlin offered this, “I think you need a season of getting your ass kicked,” Hamlin said, “for people to wake up and realize that you know what? We’re not as good as we maybe thought we JGR we got our tails kicked. Kyle [Busch] won four races in a period [of the regular season, and Hamlin won one], but when the Chase started, we were off from the start. We were all terrible.”
Now paired at Joe Gibbs Racing, the new pairing of Hamlin and Grubb shows a lot of promise for new racing experiences, in fact it was Tony Stewart himself who recommended Grubb to Hamlin, his former teammate. “Tony knows me pretty well and obviously Tony and Darian had a lot of success. So for Tony to say, ‘I think this is something that’s going to be really good,’ that’s great motivation for me.” When asked about the duo, Stewart said, “Denny’s a very technical guy. I’m the opposite of that. I just get in the thing and drive it. Denny will analyze everything that’s going on with the car and Darian’s very good at that, so I think they’ll be a better pair than I was with Darian. The question is will Tony Stewart go on to regret initiating the break-up and then playing matchmaker if Hamlin and Grubb end up becoming NASCAR’s most-powerful.