Tony Stewart says his Stewart-Haas outfit's relationship with Hendrick Motorsports remains as strong as ever despite suggestions that the departure of former Hendrick man Darian Grubb from his team had weakened the bond.
Grubb was instrumental in Stewart winning his third NASCAR Sprint Cup Series title and the first for his team last year, but he parted ways with SHR at the end of the season to join Joe Gibbs Racing and work alongside Denny Hamlin.
Before partnering Stewart, Grubb had worked at Hendrick and he maintained a strong bond with his former employer as SHR runs Hendrick-built chassis and engines.
At Watkins Glen this weekend, Hendrick driver Jeff Gordon revealed that Grubb's move had changed the dynamic between the two teams.
"We don't have them in our meetings on Tuesday as often as they used to be, so in some ways, yes," Gordon said when asked if Grubb's departure from Stewart-Haas had any impact on the teams' relationship.
"But, it's still an open book, and when we need to reach out to them, they are great. And, when they need to reach out to us, we are just as open.
"But, they are not involved in our meetings as much as I actually would like them to be, as much as they were last year. That's true."
Reigning champion Stewart confirmed that his organisation no longer takes part in Hendrick's Tuesday meetings following Grubb's departure, but he believes the relationship remains as close as ever.
Stewart has won three Cup races this year while his team-mate Ryan Newman has won once, but Stewart himself admitted recently that SHR has not been quite at Hendrick's level of performance recently.
"It's not that we don't need to go it's just that Darian had a unique relationship with Hendrick," said Stewart. "That is kind of where we were invited into their meetings.
"The information still is an open book back and forth so we are still sharing the same amount of information. The only component that is different is we are not involved in that Tuesday meeting.
"The relationship is still really good from both sides. We feel like we are an asset to them and we definitely know that they have been an asset to us for sure. That side of it really hasn't changed."