Stewart -Haas Racing raises flag on new era with Ford
Some of us raised glasses to toast the New Year, but those at Stewart - Haas Racing were also raising a new flag at their headquarters in Kannapolis, North Carolina, to kick off the 2017 season. SHR's transition to a new manufacturer will be one of the key story lines for fans to watch this year. And as you'll see below SHR seems excited about taking on that challenge. After raising a glass to the New Year, it's time to raise a new flag at the race shop. #shrFORDward pic.twitter.com/ONSEdktG03 — Stewart - Haas Racing (@StewartHaasRcng) January 1, 2017 MORE: Harvick bullish on SHR's changes
Cain: Familiar spark returns for Bowyer at Stewart -Haas
BUY TICKETS: See the races at Martinsville " Full schedule Clint Bowyer's smiling again, making jokes and most importantly, repositioning himself back among NASCAR's group of race favorites. Since taking over the No. 14 Mobil 1 Ford for retired NASCAR champion Tony Stewart , Bowyer's reeling off the best finishes he's had in two years -- including a season-best third-place finish at California's Auto Club Speedway last week. Things are looking up for the 2012 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series runner-up. One of the brightest personalities in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series garage, Bowyer's high wattage presence was noticeably dimmed a bit in 2016 driving for an under-funded, under-achieving team as he waited -- under contract -- for his seat in the 2011 championship-winning No. 14 upon his friend Stewart's retirement. With only three top 10s compared to 13 finishes of 25th or worse last year, Bowyer was clearly taking one for the team and doesn't like to look back, only forward. RELATED: Bowyer's career statistics " See how Bowyer got ready for Daytona Other than maybe championship-winning Jimmie Johnson, there was no one more ready for the final checkered flag at Homestead. As far as Bowyer was concerned, legitimately high expectations were reset immediately. And that's the mode of operation now. "It's been an OK start to the year," Bowyer said last weekend before his top-three California finish. " Obviously, you always want to be better. It's solid, but we've got to get into the top 10. This is a top-10 organization and race team, and anything less than that needs to improve." He made good on that demand 24 hours later with a hard-fought, well-raced showing in Southern California. Asked later what his boss Stewart had to say about the uptick, Bowyer just grinned, "Good job." RELATED: Heck, yeah! Bowyer's back But, he clarified, "Tony wins a lot of races. He's won a lot of races. Anything less than a win, you know ... he expects that. And I love that about Tony. "You know, obviously I know he's proud. He was happy with that. But that's what you want in an owner. To have that instilled in everything, in your DNA, I mean, this is the way I was raised. Anything else but a win is a bad day. You are miserable with anything less than that. "It's just the way we're wired as a race car driver from 5 years old and on. The problem is, is everybody else on that racetrack is wired the same way. So there's really only one guy happy and everybody else is pissed at the end of the day, is what it boils down to." All indications are that it's been a great fit for Bowyer at Stewart - Haas , and that has provided another element of confidence to boost Bowyer's expectations. He was teammates with Kevin Harvick at Richard Childress Racing early in his career and is longtime friends with Stewart , making this transition easier off-track. The translation, he expects, is high quality on-track. "I love the atmosphere, the culture, the people, they're just racers,’’ Bowyer said. "There's no fluff and buff, no smoke and mirrors. There's just racers who grew up doing what I do. Even the engineers seem like they have a racing background. Nowadays you'll meet engineers who never were a part of it, just extremely intelligent. Seems like they're all in it to win it and that goes all the way from the tire changers to the top. It's all you can ask for." Given the top-level equipment, proven team and fresh start, Bowyer reiterated last weekend that he fully expects to win a race this season, perhaps several. It's a better talking point, a legitimate goal and overall quality chance to remind everyone that he's championship-caliber. Title-worthy. His eight Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series wins have come on all kinds of tracks from the Sonoma, California, road course to the Talladega Superspeedway to the Richmond short track and Charlotte 1.5-miler. There's no doubt what Bowyer can do. It's just getting back in the saddle again, so to speak. And on a fast horse. "It's just the opportunity you've been waiting on," Bowyer said. "Everybody knows the situation. You know, this opportunity, this is something I signed up for a year and a half ago. I've been champing at the bit to be with an organization like this, to have an army of people behind you like this, the teammates, the sponsors we have, the manufacturer in Ford, all of that. "It's the total package at Stewart ‑ Haas Racing , which is why they've won a championship and win all these races that we see. That's what you thrive to be a part of. "Finally got my opportunity to be there." And he's making good.
Jimmy John's re-ups with Stewart -Haas Racing , Harvick
RELATED: Drivers on the move in 2017 Stewart - Haas Racing announced Thursday that Jimmy John's has renewed its partnership with its No. 4 Chevrolet team and driver Kevin Harvick in a multiyear agreement. With the extension, Jimmy John's will be the primary sponsor of the No. 4 Chevy in 16 races, including the season-opening Daytona 500 . The Illinois-based sandwich chain will serve as a major associate sponsor in the remaining 22 events. Jimmy John's has been associated with Harvick as a primary sponsor in NASCAR's top division since 2011. Jimmy John's followed Harvick from Richard Childress Racing to Stewart - Haas in 2014, expanding its backing of his racing efforts. "We are fortunate to partner with Kevin for many years in a very meaningful way," restaurant founder Jimmy John Liautaud said in a release provided by the team. "On and off the track, Kevin and (wife) DeLana Harvick are winners in all they do, and Stewart - Haas Racing has proven to be an excellent home for them and for Jimmy John's." Said Harvick: "I've known Jimmy since 2009 and I've personally seen how driven he is and how his work ethic is embraced by Jimmy John's franchise owners. He wants to be the best, period. And he'll out-work everyone to be the best. That's the same mindset we have in racing . I'm proud to continue this partnership with Jimmy John's at Stewart - Haas Racing ." Jimmy John's also sponsored Harvick's efforts as an owner/driver from 2009-10 in what is now known as the NASCAR XFINITY Series.
Stewart -Haas Racing 'ready' for move to Ford
Team co-owner Tony Stewart talks about why it was important to Stewart - Haas Racing to make the move to Ford, as well as the decision to start making its chassis in 2017.
Bowyer gears up for 'best opportunity' with Stewart -Haas
RELATED: First look at paint schemes of 2017 CONCORD, N.C. -- There's been plenty for Clint Bowyer to adjust to in the brief time that he's officially been a member of Stewart - Haas Racing 's driver roster. He's had to acclimate himself to the way that his new team operates. He's also had to become more familiar with the personnel on the No. 14 Ford that Bowyer will drive in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in 2017. A helpful hand from his new crew chief, Mike Bugarewicz, has helped Bowyer adjust to both of those new concepts. When Bowyer half-jokingly asked Bugarewicz if he had a team roster to keep him from addressing his crewmembers with, "Hey, buddy," or similar salutations, the second-year crew chief unexpectedly delivered. "He's such a dedicated person and so prepared, he literally went and took pictures of all the guys and e-mailed me the names of them," Bowyer said Wednesday during a preseason media event at the sprawling Ford Performance Technical Center. "I'm like, 'Man, you didn't have to do that. I could've come down.' " At which point Tony Stewart , his team owner and predecessor in the No. 14, interjected: "He says he didn't need that. He needed that, trust me." Laughing aside, Bowyer continued to underscore his point. "That's the level of dedication that you have at Stewart - Haas ," Bowyer said. "And it doesn't just end with Mike, it's all across the board. If you ask for something … you've got to be careful asking for something because it's just done." RELATED: Harvick bullish on changes " Transition to Ford among top story lines The next adjustment that Bowyer may have to make is getting accustomed to relevance, something in short supply even before he was announced Sept. 30, 2015 as the successor to three-time series champion Stewart for the organization's flagship team. Bowyer drove in relative obscurity for Michael Waltrip Racing in its waning days, then languished through a throwaway season in 2016 with the former HScott Motorsports operation as he waited his turn to join SHR. "If he could've clicked his heels three times and made it 2017, he'd have done it in a heartbeat," Stewart said. "But we were all just reminding him: 'Be patient. You've got a lot to look forward to.' And we were hoping that his season would turn around at some point, too, but it didn't work out that way and it wasn't for a lack of effort on their side. "I think the nice thing, though, is -- as odd as this sounds -- I've seen him a lot calmer than I saw him all last year. I don't know that he's ever calm, but you can tell he's excited about what's coming up. He's genuinely excited about getting in the 14 car and that makes us happy, too." RELATED: Stewart at ease in new role at SHR Bowyer's authentic anticipation is attached to what he calls "the best opportunity I've ever had." Not only does the 37-year-old driver now have an avenue to potentially return to Victory Lane for the first time in more than four seasons, he also has the chance to place his name back among the sport's top tier. Bowyer has always been known as one of the most animated and energetic figures in the NASCAR garage. But performance -- or a lack of it, in the case of Bowyer's most recent body of work -- has a way of shuffling even the most engaging figures to the shadows. Bowyer's return to a high-profile ride likely changes both the prevailing perceptions and his exposure level, but the results will need to follow suit. "Here's what I hope -- I sure hope you're watching me," Bowyer said. "At the end of the day, relevancy in this sport is everything and I've lost that a little bit. Not a little bit, a lot. And I felt it and didn't like it. It's up to me to go out and become relevant again, have you watch me and talking about me. "It makes everything better. This is a business. This is racing , but once you race at this level, it becomes a business and it trickles down to everything in your life. We're race car drivers but we do this for a business. From my dirt program, everything, my (car) dealership, it just really trickles down. Every business thing that's happened really feeds off of your success on that race track. I had a bad year and I want to become relevant again. You don't work as hard and you have a hell of a lot more fun." RELATED: Key moments in SHR history Before he embarks on that goal, Bowyer has had fun getting better acquainted with his new surroundings, no doubt aided by Bugarewicz's handy chart. But the jollity has also extended to enjoying the luxuries of championship-level equipment for a change. Bowyer marveled at the comfort and quality of his new carbon-fiber seat, remarking "I feel rich" with regards to the perfectly tailored fit. And in a further illustration of Stewart - Haas' attention to precise details, Bowyer was asked last weekend about his preference for a gearshift handle. When the newest SHR driver reacted with indifference in saying that any handle would do, he was presented with eight possible choices. "I think we have dialed in the right gearshift handle for myself and my success this year," Bowyer said with a wry smile. "If not, we have plenty of extras to go around." &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Stewart -Haas Racing to switch to Ford in 2017
RELATED: Key moments in SHR history Stewart - Haas Racing announced Wednesday that its four-car operation will switch from Chevrolet to Ford-powered cars in NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series beginning in 2017 -- the news catching most of the national media and racing insiders off-guard. Co-team owner and driver Tony Stewart considers it a coup that they were even able to keep the past six months of negotiations with Ford under wraps before Wednesday's big announcement -- only two weeks into the 2016 season. "I don't think the timing was a big issue, we just wanted to make sure we were in control of it," Stewart said. "It's very hard to keep secrets in this sport. "In figuring things were going to get out, we wanted to be proactive in announcing this. "We're going to get it out there, and then we're going to get back to business.” Both Stewart and co-owner Gene Haas opened their remarks on a national conference call Wednesday morning by thanking Chevrolet and committing to the 2016 season driving the GM brand before sharing their optimism about the Ford future. Stewart said he spoke with Hendrick Motorsports founder Rick Hendrick last month about the possibility of SHR switching engine makes -- SHR has a technical alliance with Hendrick -- and informed him of the team's final decision before Wednesday's announcement. Both Stewart and Haas were thankful to Chevy, Haas calling it a "long, awesome run” with the company. Stewart stressing, "we weren't disappointed with Chevy" and said he felt this announcement and impending move would not seriously harm the current Chevy alliance with Hendrick Motorsports . "I don't think Rick looks at this as a betrayal," Haas said of Hendrick. "I think he (Hendrick) respects the decision we have made. It's a bottom line, business decision that enhances Stewart - Haas Racing in the future and an opportunity we couldn't pass up." As the SHR announcement was ongoing Wednesday morning, Chevrolet released a statement from its Vice President Performance Vehicles and Motorsports, Jim Campbell saying, "We are disappointed with Stewart - Haas Racing 's decision, but our focus for 2016 has not changed." Stewart was in complete agreement about the focus. He reiterated the group's plans to win a 2016 Cup championship with Chevy this year and spoke about the move as a difficult, much-contemplated process. "None of this was done on a coin toss," Stewart said. "We've put six months of thought into it." SHR fields cars for 2014 Cup champion Kevin Harvick , 2004 series champion Kurt Busch , Danica Patrick and next year Clint Bowyer will take over for the retiring Stewart behind the wheel of the No. 14. NASCAR released the following statement after the news broke: " Stewart - Haas Racing has been a top-tier team in our sport for many years, and we wish them well in their future endeavor with Ford Performance. Our sport is rooted in healthy competition, and NASCAR is fortunate to have three strong auto manufacturer partners all committed to the common goals of winning and growing the sport. We know that SHR and Chevrolet will work together as hard as ever this season to win races and pursue their third Sprint Cup Championship together." Ford executives were clearly optimistic and eager about increasing their Cup tally, which also currently includes spotlight partners such as Penske Racing and Roush-Fenway Racing , Wood Brothers Racing , Richard Petty Motorsports and Front Row Motorsports . "We believe the addition of Stewart - Haas Racing in 2017 will give our program a major boost in terms of being in contention for both drivers' and manufacturers' championships every year," said Ford's global Director of Performance Dave Pericak, who also noted, "This is just another addition; we're not eliminating or reducing support to other teams." Stewart , who is currently sidelined in his final year of Cup competition while recovering from an L1 vertebrae fracture, admitted he had been monitoring social media such as Twitter after the initial announcement was made Wednesday morning. He was curious to reaction. "I understand some people are upset and I've also read comments from people who are ecstatic about it," he said, adding, "You can't overlook great opportunities.” He also said after a nearly 20-year personal tenure under the Chevy banner, "It was a big decision; it's what's best for our company going forward." In the hours after the decision was made, Ford drivers also reached out via Twitter to congratulate the SHR contingent. "Welcome to the @FordPerformance family @StewartHaasRcng. Excited to have another team join the blue ovals," tweeted Penske Racing driver Joey Logano . MORE: Smith analyzes SHR move
Stewart -Haas , Joe Gibbs Racing secure fourth Charters
RELATED: Who has the 36 Charters? " Fast facts about charters DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Stewart - Haas Racing and Joe Gibbs Racing have each obtained an additional Charter for their respective teams, a move that will guarantee NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers Kurt Busch (SHR) and Carl Edwards (JGR) a starting spot in all 36 points races each week. Officials with both teams made the announcements separately via social media (Twitter) Saturday afternoon. Securing the Charters was expected. Michael Waltrip Racing co-owner Rob Kauffman said earlier this week that Charters awarded to his organization, which ceased operations at the conclusion of the 2015 season, would likely be purchased by the Stewart - Haas and Joe Gibbs organizations. No purchase price was announced. NASCAR unveiled the new system Feb. 9, announcing a nine-year arrangement that not only will assure Charter teams a starting spot in the field but there will also be financial benefits generated by the move. Based on criteria developed by NASCAR and with input from the industry, Charters were awarded to 36 teams, each of which had attempted to qualify for all races since the start of the 2013 season. It was also announced that beginning this season Sprint Cup Series fields would feature 40 cars rather than 43 as had previously been the case. As a result, there will be four remaining positions in the field each week to be filled by Open (non-Charter) teams. Those will be determined as they have been in previous years, based on qualifying speeds. SHR was awarded three Charters for its Nos. 4, 10 and 14 teams; the No. 41 team did not debut until 2014. Likewise JGR was awarded three Charters for its Nos. 11, 18 and 20 teams, and sought a fourth for the No. 19, which debuted with Edwards last season. Charters may be sold or leased (a one-time transfer), with NASCAR approval, and HScott Motorsports owner Harry Scott opted for the latter in order to obtain a Charter for his No. 46 team with driver Michael Annett . Scott announced Friday that he had reached an agreement with Premium Motorsports owner Jay Robinson for use of that team's Charter for the 2016 season. HScott, a two-team organization, was awarded one Charter, assigned to the No. 15 team of Clint Bowyer , meaning Annett would have to qualify for all races this season. Premium Motorsports will continue to field a Sprint Cup entry. Cole Whitt will attempt to qualify the team's No. 98 Toyota in the field for next week’s season-opening Daytona 500
Kevin Harvick signs long-term deal with Stewart -Haas Racing
RELATED: Harvick through the years Stewart - Haas Racing announced Thursday that it has signed Kevin Harvick to a long-term contract extension, scuttling any outlying speculation about his future with the team. Details of the deal were not released. Harvick, 40, is in his third year with the SHR No. 4 Chevrolet team and crew chief Rodney Childers. Harvick won his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship in 2014, his first year with the operation co-owned by Tony Stewart and Gene Haas . "It was a big decision to join Stewart - Haas Racing and it has turned out to be my best decision," Harvick said in a release provided by the team. "I came to Stewart - Haas Racing to win championships. We have one, but that only made us hungry for more. I'm very happy to have my future secure with a team so dedicated to winning." Thursday's news quashes speculation that Harvick might leave the team, which is moving from Chevrolet to Ford for the 2017 season. Harvick has made 550 starts in NASCAR's top division, all in Chevrolets. "Kevin's results speak for themselves, and in addition to those numbers, he brings a presence to our team that makes everyone want to work harder," Stewart said in the release. " Kevin Harvick has made Stewart - Haas Racing a better team and he will continue to be an integral part of our future." Childers signed a multi-year contract with the No. 4 team last June. Thursday's announcement promises to keep one of the series' most successful driver-crew chiefs pairings together for the indefinite future. Harvick has notched nine of his 32 career Sprint Cup wins in Stewart - Haas equipment. Since making the transition to SHR, he has finished first (2014) and second (2015) in the driver standings, and ranks as the top point-earner so far this season. Harvick will address the media Friday at 1:15 p.m. ET in the media center at Charlotte Motor Speedway , site of Saturday night's NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race (9 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM). Video of the news conference will be live-streamed on NASCAR.com.
Tony Stewart injury update from Stewart -Haas Racing
RELATED: Stewart hospitalized with injury " Stewart to miss start of Cup season KANNAPOLIS, N.C. (Feb. 4, 2016) -- Tony Stewart , driver of the No. 14 Chevrolet for Stewart - Haas Racing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, sustained a burst fracture of the L1 vertebra in an all-terrain vehicle accident Sunday while vacationing on the West Coast. Stewart was transported to a local hospital following the non- racing accident and promptly evaluated. He was awake and alert throughout the process and able to move all of his extremities. Stewart flew to North Carolina Tuesday evening and was admitted to a Charlotte-area hospital for further evaluation. On Wednesday, he underwent surgery. The subsequent recovery period means Stewart will miss the beginning of the Sprint Cup season. A timetable for Stewart's return has not been determined, but he is expected to make a full recovery and return to the No. 14 Chevrolet in 2016. Plans for an interim driver have not been finalized. MORE: Stewart : Full coverage of ATV accident
Stewart -Haas Racing cars have inspection woes
TALLADEGA, Ala. -- All four Stewart - Haas Racing Chevrolets failed pre-qualifying inspection Saturday at Talladega Superspeedway due to the same issue -- improper assembly of the radiator inlet duct panels, which did not conform to NASCAR rules, according to a NASCAR spokesperson. All four teams -- the No. 4 of Kevin Harvick , the No. 10 of Danica Patrick , the No. 14 of Tony Stewart and the No. 41 of Kurt Busch -- had to replace the duct panels, a lengthy process that caused the Nos. 4 and 41 teams to still be in the garage working under the hood 90 minutes before qualifying began. Those two cars were the last out of the garage, getting final approval less than an hour before single-car qualifying began at the 2.66-mile superspeedway. Any penalties would be announced next week, according to a NASCAR spokesperson. If there are points penalties, a potential appeal would also be expedited due to Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup points implications. Rodney Childers, crew chief of the No. 4, doesn't expect a points deduction, though. @Freak4Harvick shouldn't be.. Just a visual thing. Wasn't performance related at all. Doesn't do anything. — Rodney Childers (@RodneyChilders4) October 24, 2015 Harvick finished seventh in Saturday's qualifying, the highest of the SHR vehicles. Stewart was 12th, Busch was 14th and Patrick was 20th. Patrick and Stewart will start from the rear, though. The No. 10 team changed transmissions Sunday morning, and the No. 14 team made adjustments. Hendrick Motorsports driver Jeff Gordon will lead the field to green in Sunday's CampingWorld.com 500 (2 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM) after winning his 81st career Coors Light Pole Award.
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