Imagine the hardship of working side by side for over a month with the guy who just fired you. Darian Group didn’t have to imagine. Instead, he lived it out of courtesy NASCAR Cup Series star Tony Stewart.
It was just one piece that may have been the strangest season in the playoff era. The recent championship for both men certainly made for a lasting memory.
Tony Stewart won his last Cup Series championship via tiebreaker
Under the current NASCAR Cup Series playoff format, the Championship 4 The driver who finishes first in the season-ending race wins the title. It’s cut and dried, and it helps if one of the four qualified competitors wins each year.
However, in 2011 points still decided the championship despite the season being capped off by the playoffs. Fortunately, Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards completed the 36-race schedule tied at 2403 points after Stewart won and Edwards finished second at Homestead-Miami on November 20.
Fortunately, NASCAR was prepared to deal with a tie, and didn’t have to go past its first tiebreaker—race wins—to determine its champion. Edwards, driving for Roush Fenway Racing, won once. Stewart, who was already a two-time champion and partnered with Gene Haas, won five races.
Thus, Stewart earned the honors at the end of the season.
Tony Stewart won the title with a crew chief he had just fired
With 12 berths available, Tony Stewart Eligible 11y in the 2011 Cup Series Playoffs, and did not consider himself among the drivers with a chance of winning the championship. He was winless in 26 races and caught five runs in 27y or worse.
“I felt there were drivers and teams that were ready for playoffs that didn’t work out and had the potential to finish in the top five, and that took that place away,” said Stewart. NBC Sports. “I didn’t feel like our team was ready for that.”
Then, Stewart won at Chicagoland and Loudon to open the playoffs, and suddenly there was cause for optimism. However, that was crushed by 25y Place in Dover and 15y in Kansas. Amid mounting frustration, Stewart and co-owner Gene Haas told crew chief Darian Grubb that he would not be brought back in 2012. The decision was made before qualifying, and the two quick wins could not nullify the new disappointments.
This is when things got really weird. Not only did Stewart finish in the top ten in all remaining races, but he also won at Martinsville, Texas Motor Speedway and Homestead-Miami over the final four races to secure the championship.
Weird Champions Week in Las Vegas
Darian Grubb’s dismissal only became known to the public after Tony Stewart took home the 2011 Cup Series championship trophy. Naturally, it created a tense atmosphere at times during Champions Week in Las Vegas.
“It’s definitely embarrassing.” Grubb told the Associated Press this week. This is the only problem with the situation. It’s critical. We’re just trying to put that in the back of our heads and get out there and enjoy what we’ve accomplished. I think we’re doing a pretty good job at that. but it is hard “.
Grubb is out of the loop OK. Formerly a Daytona 500 crew chief with Jimmie Johnson while on hold for Chad Knauss, Grubb made his reputation in various roles at Hendrick Motorsports before winning 11 races with Stewart from 2009-11.
After the breakup, he won seven times as crew chief for Denny Hamlin from 2012-14 and twice the following year with Carl Edwards. He worked the 2018 season with William Byron and appeared on top of the box last season at Watkins Glen as Kimi Raikkonen’s Project 91 crew chief.
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