DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Tony Stewart and Greg Zipadelli won 33 races and two NASCAR championships together over a successful decade together.
They split after the 2008 season when Stewart left to become co-owner of Stewart-Haas Racing, and Stewart begins this season with his third different crew chief since Zipadelli.
It's certainly evidence Stewart has struggled to find the same chemistry he had with Zipadelli all those years. So why not just reunite with Zipadelli?
Zipadelli told The Associated Press on Friday it crossed his mind, and he even he offered last year to return to the pit box this season with Stewart.
The three-time Cup champion wouldn't entertain the idea.
"He wouldn't let me. He shot me down pretty quick," said Zipadelli, who as vice president of competition at SHR manages all four of SHR's Sprint Cup teams.
Zipadelli admitted he misses calling races and the competition side of being a crew chief — something he didn't anticipate when he left Joe Gibbs Racing after the 2011 season to move into a management role for Stewart. He still got into the action calling 10 races in 2012 for Danica Patrick, but was strictly behind the scenes all of last year.
"I miss the adrenaline. I really do," said Zipadelli, who also thinks the crew chief position has changed the last few years into "just 24/7 worry. You worry about these guys and if you did everything that we could for them. Can we make it through the races? Are the pit stops going to be good? It's just a completely, completely different feeling.
"Back then, crew chiefing was so much more adrenaline. Ups and downs, I loved it. It's what drives you. Now it's just worry, 365 days a year. And there aren't the same highs."