Local Native Greg
Zipadelli Living a Dream In NASCAR
Stewart-Hass Competition Director
Greg Zipadelli (right) with Tony Stewart's Crew Chief Steve Addington
|By Brian Danko, Staff Writer
The New Britain Herald & Bristol Press
Greg Zipadelli is living the
dream today but when he was toiling away on modifieds in Berlin, he
never thought he would be in the position where he is now.
“You know, when you were working
there back then I wanted to be where I am now but you don’t worry
about it. Whatever comes comes.” Greg said when reached at his office
of Stewart-Haas Racing. “We were more worried about doing what we
needed to do then.”
Zipadelli, who grew up in and
around the Berlin/New Britain area is now the competition director for
Stewart-Haas after years of sitting atop the pit wagon for Tony
Stewart and recently Joey Logano when working for Joe Gibbs Racing.
After 14 years of working for
Gibbs Racing, Zippy as he is still known by, left when Stewart called
and asked to take over the administrative side of racing.
“It was time for a change.” Greg
said. “I got tired of the traveling. I have three children and I
wanted to spend more time with them, there are many reasons but I just
felt it was time to make a change.”
Zippy & wife Nan
But besides running the office and
overseeing Stewart-Haas Racing, Greg is in charge of getting Danica
Patrick’s’ Sprint Cup team up and running and there he is still atop the
pit boxes but for only the races that she is running.
Zippy with Danica Patrick
“She is fun to work with. We are
putting the pieces for her to run full time next year. I know the
talent level is there. We are working on the communications and making
sure that she is asking the right questions.”
When asked how he evaluates her
and her success, Greg said continuing to make strides is what the
entire team is looking for.
“Every race, we are looking at
have her finish higher than the last race and move up in the
standings.” Greg said. “We are currently looking for the right person
to be her crew chief next year.”
Danica has a legitimate shot at
winning the Daytona July Nationwide race where she drives for Dale
Earnhardt, Jr. but was taken out in an accident near the end of the race.
The races on top of the pit box are
helping Zipadelli get used to the adjustment of NOT being on the pit box
all the time.
“I have to admit, it’s harder than I
thought it would be but this deal with Danica has made it somewhat easier.
You have to remember, I have been doing this a longtime including the
modifieds and Busch North series.”
While Greg, his brother, mother and
father all moved south, he still has a sister living in Connecticut but
now North Carolina is his home just like it is to many former Central
Connecticut racers and crew members.
As one of the top people in
charge of Stewart-Haas racing, he said it is nice to have some
familiar faces working there in Clyde Mcleod, Aaron Kuehn and Jeff
Zarrella. He also has seen many former modified crew members who now
live down south and work not only on the Sprint Cup side but the
Nationwide Series as well as the Truck Series.
One of the people that Greg sees
a lot of is former modified tour champion, Mike McLaughlin, who won
the title in 1988 when the car was run out of Berlin.
“I see Mike quite a bit. We own a
garage together and the kids are always around there. I see Mike Greci
a lot too.” Mike was the car owner of the Busch North series team that
Mike Stefanik won the championship with and Zipadelli was crew chief
for that team also.
Lancaster, N.Y. Speedway. Clyde McLeod (left) Zippy
(far right) help out on the Mario Fiore #44
“You know, in a lot of ways it feels
like home.” Zippy said. “I had a lot of fun racing in the modified series.
Back then we played hard and worked hard. Down here we ONLY work hard.”
Zippy has taken the long road to the
top but he, like many, wouldn’t change a minute of it. It was the many
victories and the many defeats that define a person and how they handle
Greg has handled it with class and
never forgets where he came from in Berlin, Ct and how that experience
helped shape his life path.