NASCAR analysts Marty Snider and Chris Rice break down Smithfield Foods' decision to join Stewart-Haas Racing in 2018.
Danica Patrick announces she will not return to Stewart-Haas Racing for the 2018 season.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams will adjust to a new innovation wrinkle this season, making use of a digital dashboard display that will replace long-used analog gauges. True to the competitive spirit in the NASCAR garage, one team might have a leg up on the rest. Stewart-Haas Racing was the first to apply the technology in actual race conditions, deploying the digital display in Kurt Busch 's No. 41 Chevrolet last September at Darlington Raceway . For the No. 41 team to blaze the trail created an interesting juxtaposition at the South Carolina track. Here was one of NASCAR's most tech-savvy teams making an early embrace of one of the sport's newest technological leaps, but hosting the coming-out party at stock-car racing's oldest superspeedway with one of the most old-school crew chiefs in Tony Gibson leading the charge. "We got on it," Gibson said last week during NASCAR's annual Charlotte Motor Speedway Media Tour. "… We didn't want to go to Daytona and have, 'What have we got? How does the layout want to be in this dash?' So we worked out all the bugs in ours before the end of the year. Kurt had his own layout and what he wanted to see, and he knows how to run it. We had to move some things around, work some bugs out like everybody else." Other teams followed suit, taking advantage of last season's breaking-in phase as an audition for a NASCAR-mandated rules change in 2016. A quick canvass of drivers and crew chiefs during last week's media tour revealed that some teams still have some fine-tuning to do before cars hit the track for opening Sprint Unlimited practice Feb. 12 at Daytona International Speedway . If the pattern of Stewart-Haas being ahead of the game in the offseason sounds familiar, it should. In a pivotal December 2013 test session with the new driver/crew chief pairing of Kevin Harvick and Rodney Childers, SHR's No. 4 team was the class of the field in quickly adapting to the next season's rules package -- a transition that eventually netted the 2014 Sprint Cup championship. "Anything new, you have to put time into it and understand it, and I'm thankful to have that opportunity with Stewart-Haas to have the engineering department, to have a dedicated guy who's working with McLaren on the software and to be able to find new things," Busch said. "Even with us running it last year at Darlington and then the next time I tested it in January, so many new chapters, categories and things were opened up for us to look at. "I'm just glad that I feel like we've done our homework and put our time invested into it to where we won't have problems with it and we're going to succeed with it and not have it be an issue or a distraction on race weekends." The next step for teams beyond making sure the system works: Getting the most out of the information. The existing settings -- tachometer; voltage; water and oil temperatures; oil, water and fuel pressures -- will all be accessible, but delivered on one of 16 different preset displays. Teams will be able to drill down and customize each preset based on driver preferences. The first full-field implementation of the digital display is just weeks away, but NASCAR competition officials say the new system has room to grow. Tire-pressure sensors have been tested ahead of a 2017 rollout, with the potential to help teams make educated decisions about air pressure and other adjustments during pit stops. Tire sensors aren't yet approved for competition, but Sprint Cup Series director Richard Buck says he's hopeful for other advancements in distributing the dashboard data beyond drivers and teams. "The exciting part about it is the possibilities of the future," Buck said. "... Integrating it with the fans, integrating it with (the media), the data that we have on race cars available to us and be able to tailor that and get it out to the fans. That's what makes it exciting to me."
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
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.