Tony Stewart's championship-winning crew chief, Darian Grubb, says he's been fired.
Grubb, speaking after he and Stewart won the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series title on Sunday night, said he was told prior to the Charlotte Chase race that he would not be welcomed back by Stewart-Haas Racing next season.
"I always wanted to stay with the organization," he said. "That's the reason I came here – to build something special."
The crew chief said "we'll see in this coming week how things change," but didn't sound optimistic he would be back.
Stewart ducked a question about Grubb's status and said, "I know what his status is for the rest of the night – I'm going to get him drunk."
Asked if it was possible Grubb would return to SHR next season, Stewart would not say.
"There's a lot of things in the offseason and a lot of decisions that have to be made," he said. "Obviously, we wanted to get through this championship battle first. We'll sit down as a group this week and figure out the direction of our program."
Told the news was baffling considering his team had just won the championship, Grubb agreed and said, "it still is to me, honestly."
Grubb seemed to leave the door open for a return to SHR if the team wanted him back. He said he's already been talking other teams and that the relationship between he and Stewart "was a little tough and strained" after he learned he'd been fired.
Would Grubb return to SHR if asked?
"It all depends," he said. "We'll just have to do those talks this week and see what happens."