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Stewart-Haas Racing to field XFINITY team in 2017
Stewart-Haas Racing will field a full-time, single-car team in the NASCAR XFINITY Series in 2017, the organization announced Monday. The driver and sponsor of the team will be announced before the end of the 2016 season, SHR said. The team will be run from SHR's headquarters in Kannapolis, North Carolina. "In order to maintain the competitiveness that has earned SHR two championships since our debut in 2009, we needed an outlet to develop drivers and team personnel for the Sprint Cup Series," said Greg Zipadelli, SHR vice president of competition. "People make the difference between winning and losing. An XFINITY Series team gives us added depth that will allow us to promote from within whenever necessary." SHR currently fields a four-car team at the Sprint Cup Series level, with cars driven by Tony Stewart , Kevin Harvick , Kurt Busch and Danica Patrick . Stewart, co-owner, will retire at the conclusion of this season, and Clint Bowyer already has been tabbed to replace him. Since its inception in 2009, SHR has won 33 points races, two non-points races and 28 poles. SHR won its first Sprint Cup championship in 2011 with Stewart, and another in 2014 with Harvick. Speaking on SIRIUS XM NASCAR Radio on Monday afternoon, Zipadelli stressed how an XFINITY team will be useful in the development of talent. "It's a great series for driver development," Zipadelli said. "It's a great series for crew development -- from pit crews to crew chiefs to mechanics. It's a great avenue to try things for our Cup car, whether it be parts, pieces, things of that nature." More than anything, SHR simply was ready to make the move. "An XFINITY Series team has always been something we would consider when the time was right, and that time is now," said Stewart, who co-owns SHR with Gene Haas, founder of Haas Automation. "Staying successful in this sport means staying ahead of the curve, and having an XFINITY Series team provides an in-house driver development program and a new channel for personnel to make a positive impact with our race team." Haas agreed that this is natural step in the organization's growth. "This is a natural progression of SHR's growth and one that allows us to be more self-sufficient," Haas said. "If you look at all the teams that are successful in Sprint Cup, they have a direct connection to the XFINITY Series where drivers, engineers, mechanics and pit crew members are developed. We're an established team with a strong infrastructure that is ready for this endeavor." </p>
Five to Watch: Potential XFINITY drivers for Stewart-Haas Racing
Who might Stewart-Haas Racing turn to drive its XFINITY Series car in 2017? NASCAR.com has a few ideas.
That's a wrap: Stewart-Haas Racing cars get ready for Pocono
Watch as Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick and Danica Patrick's cars get wrapped in Mobil 1 paint schemes for the upcoming race at Pocono Raceway.
Watch wrap video of Stewart-Haas Racing cars
Watch as the cars of Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick and Danica Patrick get wrapped in Mobil 1 schemes for the Pennsylvania 400 on Sunday, July 31 at Pocono Raceway. Go back to Inside Track .
Ryan Newman plans to stick with RCR in 2017
LONG POND, Pa. -- Richard Childress Racing is expected to announce its 2017 Sprint Cup Series driver lineup in the coming weeks. Ryan Newman, in his third season as driver of the No. 31 RCR Chevrolet, isn't quite sure if he'll be a part of it. "We haven't talked about it in-depth yet, but we have talked about it," Newman, 13th in points, said Thursday at Kalahari Resort in Pocono Manor, Pennsylvania. "Hopefully, we'll get to sit down and talk about it soon." Newman has been arguably the organization's most successful driver during his tenure with the longtime Sprint Cup Series stable, coming within a straightaway of his first championship in 2014 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. His numbers are down slightly from the past two seasons (just one top-five finish and seven finishes in the top 10), but his team, winless since he started driving the No. 31 Chevrolet, employs a consistent points- racing strategy that focuses on solid finishes rather than gambling for a victory. It worked wonders in '14, and with 12 finishes inside the top 15 this season and several more on the cusp, appears to be working in 2016. He sits 13th in the drivers points standings coming into Pocono. That doesn't mean, however, that NASCAR's "Rocket Man" isn't looking to launch himself into Victory Lane. "We're kind of getting back into that zone of having better finishes, better runs," Newman said. "We had a great run going last week (at Indianapolis) and crashed out with seven laps to go or whatever. So we feel like we've turned the momentum back in our favor but in the end we still have to deliver that victory." While Newman offers consistent, above-average production week in and week out, RCR may be faced with a tough decision as Childress' grandson, Ty Dillon, appears ready for a full-time Sprint Cup Series ride with no clear path to a spot for him. Still, the team owner told NASCAR.com earlier this year at Michigan International Speedway that he's planning on having the '16 XFINITY Series title hopeful in a Sprint Cup car full-time in 2017, while the exact organization and ride has yet to be finalized. Dillon has made five starts in the No. 95 Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing Chevrolet this season with a best finish of 20th (Texas). It's possible Dillon could slide over to that ride full-time, but it would leave veteran Michael McDowell without a seat. Dillon also ran threee Sprint Cup Series races filling in for injured Tony Stewart in the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet, getting his season-best finish of 15th at Phoenix. In a report by NBC Sports' Dustin Long earlier this month, Childress said, "Right now, it's just a lot of things are hanging. We're trying to put together what's going to be the best for everybody, not just for RCR, but for the drivers and the sponsors; we're trying to put together good programs." Right now, Newman doesn't appear to be getting his ducks in order just yet on the off chance he finds himself ousted from his ride in favor of the younger Dillon. "I plan on (coming back)," he said. "If they'll have me back, I'll be there."
Hard tires, reworked curbing present challenges at repaved Watkins Glen
RELATED: Before and after: Watkins Glen repave WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. -- NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams wrapped up a two-day organizational test Wednesday at newly repaved Watkins Glen International, emerging with better ideas of the challenges they'll face when the series returns for the Aug. 4-7 race weekend. Among those challenges: reworked curbing, a fast circuit and a harder-compound tire that has made grip elusive. A total of 16 Sprint Cup teams -- one permitted from each organization -- tried to unlock the novelty of the $12 million resurfacing project, using a Goodyear tire that emphasizes durability at the expense of traction and wear. The rubber compound chosen is similar to that used July 9 at Kentucky Speedway, site of the Sprint Cup Series' most recent race on a repaved track. At Kentucky, the tire selection made for treacherous conditions in certain spots and made passing a delicate process. Though road courses don't lend themselves to the multi-groove racing seen at several well-aged oval tracks, Watkins Glen might still be a tricky place to maneuver when the series reconvenes for the Cheez-It 355 at The Glen. "The main thing we've learned so far is how hard the tire is," said Jamie McMurray, driver of the Chip Ganassi Racing No. 1 Chevrolet. "It just seems to be no wear at all or lap time fall-off right now. This place didn't ever wear tires like Sonoma, but it seems like the tire is pretty hard." Sonoma, the other road course where the Sprint Cup Series races, is a much more intricate circuit with qualifying speeds roughly 30 mph slower than at Watkins Glen's open, free-wheeling layout. The Goodyear tire compound designated for both the Watkins Glen test and the race weekend is the same used for right-side tires in XFINITY Series competition at Iowa Speedway. Those Iowa right-sides will be used at all four corners for the Sprint Cup event at the 2.45-mile road course. Racing with a softer tire with more adhesion would potentially introduce the threat of excessive wear or blistering. It's a trade-off that Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate Chase Elliott says he's willing to accept. "I think a lot of it is just having a fresh surface like this, you've got to have a tire that's pretty hard," said Elliott, Hendrick Motorsports' driver representative for the two-day test. "It's fast, and to ask a tire to hold up, you've got to bring something that's durable. It puts Goodyear in a tough spot, but I think they do a good job of trying to make the most of tough situations. There's been a lot of repaves here lately and I know they're working hard." David Groseclose, NASCAR's lead tire engineer, said Wednesday that the benefits of competing with a more rigid rubber compound outweighed the potential drawbacks. "As with all repaves -- same thing as Kentucky -- if you don't have a hard tire, you're going to blister them up," Groseclose said. "The way that works is if you've got a soft compound and you use it, the soft compounds tend to retain heat. It's just the nature of a soft compound. But on a repave, it's not going to wear so that heat's not going to be dissipated out of the tire. It has nowhere to go, so it stays in the tire, so that's why it blisters up. That's what we saw at Kentucky with the XFINITY and Truck Series." In addition to the surface itself, the track features new concrete for the rumble strips that border the circuit's turns and run-off areas. Some drivers found the differences barely noticeable, but Kurt Busch discovered a distinction the hard way with an early Tuesday spin as he bounded over the apex points in the backstretch chicane on one of his initial laps. "It's a lot different," said Tony Gibson, Busch's crew chief on the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 41 Chevrolet. "Kurt's like, 'I've got to learn all the curbs again.' The curbs over in the bus stop (chicane) are probably the biggest change. They're way more aggressive, and they've tightened up, so it's a lot tighter lane through there." Said Elliott, who will race here in Sprint Cup for the first time next weekend: "Some of the curbs may be a little different here or there, some a little rougher, a little smoother just depending on how they laid the asphalt in or however it worked. It's as close as you could make a track from an old surface to a repave, for sure." Five Sprint Cup teams participated in a Goodyear tire test May 10-11, and another 16 were present for this week's organizational test. For the remaining half of the field, the work toward finding the proper handle begins with opening practice on Friday, Aug. 5. "If you get your balance right, it'll be a no-drama," Gibson said. "Man, I told Kurt earlier, 'I'd hate to know I had to come here next Friday and hit the track for the first time and try to figure out these curbs and how much the race track has changed.' It'll be a handful in the short amount of time we get to practice. "It'll be interesting to see when we come back who has issues and who doesn't. But it's definitely going to be a plus to come and learn the race track, even if your car is not right or whatever, just getting here and getting behind the wheel and getting time on the race track is going to mean more." Pit notes: -- The full roster (in alphabetical order) of drivers and teams participating in the test: AJ Allmendinger (JTG Daugherty Racing ), Ryan Blaney (Wood Brothers Racing ), Clint Bowyer (HScott Motorsports), Chris Buescher (Front Row Motorsports), Kurt Busch ( Stewart-Haas Racing ), Kyle Busch (Joe Gibbs Racing ), Austin Dillon (Richard Childress Racing ), Chase Elliott (Hendrick Motorsports), Brad Keselowski (Team Penske), Michael McDowell (Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing ), Jamie McMurray (Chip Ganassi Racing ), Casey Mears (Germain Racing ), Brian Scott (Richard Petty Motorsports), Regan Smith (Tommy Baldwin Racing ), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (Roush Fenway Racing ), Martin Truex Jr. (Furniture Row Racing ). -- Casey Mears turned the fastest lap in the two-day test, which was divided into four sessions of four hours apiece. Mears pushed the Germain Racing No. 13 Chevrolet in the closing session to a best lap of 126.7 mph, a good bit slower than the track qualifying record of 129.491 mph set by Marcos Ambrose in August 2014. -- Brad Keselowski returned to the track Wednesday, one day after his severe, nearly head-on crash in Turn 1. He turned 74 laps over both sessions in a reserve Team Penske No. 2 Ford. -- Two teams -- Furniture Row Racing (driver Martin Truex Jr.) and Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing (driver Michael McDowell) -- were absent from testing's opening day, arriving in the Watkins Glen garage Wednesday in time for the two closing sessions. -- Wednesday's final session was extended 30 minutes to a 5:30 p.m. ET close because of a nearly hour-long clean-up for fluid on the track. After Chase Elliott's No. 24 Chevrolet suffered a broken axle, Clint Bowyer's No. 15 Chevy ran over the part, damaging the car's transmission. -- NASCAR XFINITY Series teams are scheduled to turn their first laps on the new Watkins Glen surface next Thursday. The NASCAR K&N Pro Series East will stage a support race the following day on the 2.45-mile course.
From the Vault: Stewart scores special win for SHR at Pocono
Tony Stewart won Stewart-Haas Racing's first NASCAR event in the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race in 2009. In June, at Pocono, Stewart scored the first points-paying victory for his organization.
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.
Rodney Childers is having the worst week ever
Rodney Childers, crew chief for the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing team of Kevin Harvick, is having just about the worst week ever. Here's why: 1. Penalized for lug nut violation during last weekend's Indianapolis race -- costing him $20,000 and a one-race suspension (Pocono.) " Read more 2. On the receiving end of some unpleasant dental work. Sitting at the dentist, mouth numb.. Mom in the hospital.. Dermatologist this morning.. Suspended.. Anything else?? pic.twitter.com/Huu09DQJxZ — Rodney Childers (@RodneyChilders4) July 27, 2016 3. Someone messed with his grass. To the person that just pulled in my yard and spun the grass up, please come back and do it again!! — Rodney Childers (@RodneyChilders4) July 28, 2016 4. His 12-hour-old car needed a pit stop. Here we go.. Day 2.. Busted windshield pic.twitter.com/S3MHQiHtvK — Rodney Childers (@RodneyChilders4) July 28, 2016 But, hey, at least he'll be getting some rare downtime to relax and focus on some of his non- racing hobbies. Guess I should have failed post race instead of having one lugnut loose.. Looking fwd to some ⛳️ https://t.co/OQz577IlQR — Rodney Childers (@RodneyChilders4) July 27, 2016 We see you lookin' on the bright side, RC.
NASCAR gives P3 penalty to No. 4 Sprint Cup team
Rodney Childers, crew chief of Kevin Harvick's No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet, has been fined $20,000 and suspended through this weekend's race at Pocono Raceway after the No. 4 team was assessed a P3 penalty following last weekend's race at Indianapolis, NASCAR announced Wednesday. The penalty fell under section 12.1; section 10.11.3.4, lug nuts not properly installed. Other penalties assessed following the Crown Royal Presents the Combat Wounded Coalition 400 at The Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway included written warnings for twice failing LIS inspection pre-race to: No. 5 team of Kasey Kahne (first warning), No. 27 team of Paul Menard (third warning) and No. 83 team of Matt DiBenedetto (fourth warning). Written warnings also were given to the No. 41 team of Kurt Busch (second warning) and the No. 43 team of Aric Almirola (second warning) for failing template inspection twice, pre-qualifying. In the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, the No. 22 team of Austin Wayne Self received a writing warning (third warning) on opening day inspection at the Aspen Dental Eldora Dirt Derby for truck trailing arms not meeting specifications.