Zipadelli Ready for New Role
By: Pete Pistone - @PPistone | MRN.com on December 19, 2011 | 9:32 A.M. EST
"When good opportunities come around, you have to make decisions and I’m looking forward to the future I have here." (Photo: Getty Images)
Greg Zipadelli gets another chance to work with Tony Stewart, this time as Director of Competition for Stewart-Haas Racing.
The reunion of Stewart and Zipadelli, who enjoyed great success together when they teamed up for Sprint Cup championship runs while members of Joe Gibbs Racing, had been rumored for some time.
But it all finally came together when Zipadelli was able to negotiate his release from JGR and the role of Joey Logano’s crew chief for the opportunity to take on the management position at SHR.
“I had a great run at Joe Gibbs Racing,” Zipadelli said. “This position had been talked about there but wasn’t going to be available for a while. And when I looked at it, I 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.’”
The position at SHR had been vacated since the departure of Bobby Hutchens last summer and Zipadelli said he considered it an option early on because of his relationship with Stewart.
“Tony has always been very good to me,” he said. “We’ve just really, truly respected each other. We can be very honest with each other and not worry about hurting each other’s feelings. I trust and believe in him as much as I do anybody else on this earth.”
While Zipadelli will have expanded responsibilities in his management role, he won’t completely give up serving as a crew chief at least in the short term.
Zipadelli confirmed he would work with Danica Patrick in that capacity early on in her Sprint Cup Series foray when she begins her 10-race schedule with the Daytona 500.
“I will start immediately, as soon as this afternoon, putting some of those pieces together,” Zipadelli said. “The Daytona test and the Daytona 500, right now it looks like I’ll be there to do that.
“Most important is we find the right person long-term for that position. If it takes until the end of the year to make sure that we look at everybody that is going to be available now or coming available at the end of the year to see – what’s important is that we find the right person. We’ll take as much time as we need.”
Zipadelli believes the hands on experience working with Patrick’s team will be beneficial as he builds the entry and readies for its full-time move in 2013.
And it also provides the chance to help Zipadelli make the transition from the war wagon.
“When good opportunities come around, you have to make decisions and I’m looking forward to the future I have here,” Zipadelli said. “I know I’m going to get to do a couple of races and be actively involved in getting her cars built and getting some people hired, kind of putting that group together.
“It will help me wean myself from that passion and daily fire of the fire drills that you go through as a crew chief to moving into this new position. It won’t be such a culture shock to me.”