Tony Stewart denies crew rumor

CONCORD, N.C. -- Tony Stewart denied on Tuesday a weekend social media report that Greg Zipadelli would become his crew chief in 2013.

"No, that's not true,'' Stewart said during a promotion for sponsor Mobil 1 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. "That's the first I've even heard about it. Nobody has thought about that or discussed that. We're pretty comfortable where we're at with our lineup right now.''

Stewart and Zipadelli won two Sprint Cup titles together at Joe Gibbs Racing before Stewart became the driver/owner of Stewart-Haas Racing in 2009. Zipadelli joined Stewart as competition director at SHR this season.

Zipadelli also is the crew chief for Danica Patrick's 10 Cup races this season. Stewart said there are no plans to leave Zipadelli with Patrick when she moves to Cup full time in 2013.

But Stewart was impressed with Patrick's effort at Bristol, where she finished ninth in the Nationwide race and was on the lead lap running 19th in her first Cup race at the half-mile track before being wrecked late.

"I was really impressed,'' Stewart said. "Darlington and Bristol have far exceeded my expectations. When we got our laps (Stewart crashed on Lap 334 and had to go to the garage for repairs) down, I got out there and got behind her and just followed her. She ran a really good line.

"I don't think I made it that many laps my rookie year in a Cup car.''
Stewart actually ran 498 of 500 laps in his Cup debut at Bristol. Patrick ran 434 on Saturday.

David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com. He can be reached at dnewtonespn@aol.com.