Tony Stewart ropes in Quicken Loans

KANNAPOLIS, N.C. -- Tony Stewart won yet another race Tuesday, when he beat several other teams courting a sponsor new to NASCAR.

Stewart signed Quicken Loans to a nine-race deal for Ryan Newman next season, a sponsorship agreement that gives Stewart-Haas Racing its most stable funding package since Stewart became co-owner in 2009.

"We still have some gaps, but this is the best (sponsorship) position we've ever been in," Stewart said. "This was months in the making. These deals are very long processes, and they met with a lot of teams. They did a lot of homework. When you are as competitive as I am, it's great to be able to beat all those other teams to get this deal done."

Quicken is sponsoring Newman's car this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway; the car will carry a paint scheme that promotes the Nov. 11 Quicken Loans Carrier Classic men's college basketball game between top-ranked North Carolina and Michigan State.

The two-time NASCAR champion is coming off Sunday's win at Martinsville Speedway, his third since the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship began. The victory moved him within eight points of series leader Carl Edwards, and with three races remaining, his confidence is soaring.

Stewart, who wrote off his title chances days before the Sept. 19 Chase opener, repeated Tuesday his warning that Edwards had better be on his toes during this final stretch.

"If they aren't, they are making a mistake," Stewart said. "I'm not worried about what they are doing. I don't have to. It's nice to feel like you can control your own destiny."

Stewart is historically one of the streakiest drivers in NASCAR, and when he gets on a roll, he's hard to stop. And he insisted he won't be distracted by his off-track responsibilities as a team owner.

Stewart is trying to become the first driver-owner since Alan Kulwicki in 1992 to win the NASCAR championship. His responsibilities as team owner require him to search for funding for Newman's car, as well as for the new third team he'll field next season for Danica Patrick.

Patrick is slated to run a limited Cup schedule, and SHR should announce the bulk of it this weekend at Texas.
Stewart had hoped the team would run a full schedule, possibly
with Mark Martin sharing the ride and mentoring Patrick, but that was dependent on finding a sponsor.

But multiple sources told ESPN.com's David Newton on Tuesday that Martin is expected to join Michael Waltrip Racing and drive a part-time 2012 schedule in the No. 00 Toyota, currently driven by David Reutimann.

The Quicken Loans deal gives him breathing room on Newman's car, which has never been fully funded.

The U.S. Army is the primary sponsor on a year-to-year deal. Although it will be back in 2012, the sponsorship is being reduced from 15 to 12 races. Tornados, a second primary sponsor, also is cutting back from the five races it had this season.

But SHR is expecting two more announcements for the No. 39 Chevrolet this season, and the Quicken signing could get the organization at close to 30 races sold for Newman. Quicken also will be an associate sponsor for Stewart and for Newman on the races it hasn't already committed to as major sponsor.

"I think the fact that car is a lot of single primary sponsors makes it attractive to a sponsor that doesn't want to write that big check," Stewart said. "There's still a lot of value in NASCAR, and I think we've been able to show how aggressive our approach is. We're a young organization, and we're able to show, 'This is how we do it.' I don't think we're stuck in that rut some other teams are of doing things the same old way.

"We figure out how we can take what (a sponsor) has and make it work for them."

Information from ESPN.com's David Newton and The Associated Press was used in this report.