- Marty Smith, ESPN
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Despite winning the 2011 Sprint Cup championship, Tony Stewart is not resting. Instead, he continues to add key personnel to Stewart-Haas Racing.
Greg Zipadelli, the crew chief who paired with Stewart to win the 2002 and 2005 series championships, will reunite with his former driver at SHR in 2012 as the organization's competition director, the team announced.
"Greg and I have a long and successful history together," Stewart said in a prepared statement announcing the hire. "I know him and he knows me, and we both know what it takes to build race teams.
"We took our time in searching for a competition director because it's an important role with a lot of responsibility. Greg knows all that goes into the job, understands the importance of teamwork and communication across all levels of the organization, and is ultimately someone I have a great deal of trust in."
The team had been without a competition director since it released Bobby Hutchens in June.
Zipadelli was granted a release from his contract with Joe Gibbs Racing. Jason Ratcliff will replace Zipadelli at JGR as Joey Logano's crew chief. Ratcliff had been the crew chief for JGR's No. 18 Nationwide Series car, driven by Kyle Busch.
"Joe Gibbs always says that you win with people, and Tony Stewart is a winner," Zipadelli said in the Stewart-Haas statement. "We won a lot together at Joe Gibbs Racing, and it was a sad day when (Stewart) left.
"But Tony had an unbelievable opportunity with Stewart-Haas Racing, and he's obviously made the most of it. To become a part of what he's already built, but to do it in a new role with a new set of responsibilities, was a challenge I wanted."
At Stewart-Haas Racing, Zipadelli will oversee building Danica Patrick's team as she debuts in the Sprint Cup Series on a part-time basis in 2012, though it is unknown at this time who will serve as her crew chief, sources said.
Two weeks ago, it was announced that Steve Addington will serve as Stewart's crew chief next season, while Darian Grubb, who directed Stewart's team to the 2011 Sprint Cup title, will move to JGR as Denny Hamlin's crew chief.
Zipadelli had been the crew chief of the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 car since Stewart's rookie year in 1999.
Marty Smith is a contributor to ESPN's NASCAR coverage. He can be reached at ESPNsider@aol.com.
2dK. Lee Davis