NASCAR Insider Highlights RCR & SHR’s Dismal State as Cup Teams Power Rankings Come to Light

Published 02/09/2024, 4:18 AM EST

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During the winter break after the 2023 season, many NASCAR organisations have made internal changes in the hopes of improving their Cup Series bid in 2024. But while the community had to take the team statements at face value earlier, the Busch Light Clash has made some startling revelations about the field’s performance. From inevitable success stories to unexpected disappointments, the 2024 season is shaping up to be a major test for a lot of teams.

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So now that we could get a tangible idea of how all the teams are holding up before the Daytona 500, SiriusXM’s Pete Pistone released his 2024 Preseason Organization Power Rankings. And once we take a look at the placements, there may be a few surprises that leave the fans wanting to know more.

The Favorites and The Underdogs have been revealed ahead of the 2024 season

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Talking about the top team heading into the season, it’s fairly evident that the ones to beat are Team Penske. And as per Pistol Pete’s rankings, the organisation naturally ranks as number one. Not only are the reigning champions aiming to build on an ecstatic year, but the team also showed great strength at the Busch Light Clash. Joey Logano was amongst the favourites to win the Clash after qualifying second.

But what was more impressive than his fourth-place finish was Ryan Blaney’s resurgence from 23rd on the grid to 3rd at the checkered flag. While Joe Gibbs Racing failed to get two cars into the top 5 after Ty Gibbs’ unfortunate clash relegated him to a dismal P18 finish, Penske has done just that at the very beginning of the year. Speaking of Gibbs’ unfortunate result, it is most likely why Pistol Pete ranked Hendrick Motorsports higher than JGR, as three of their cars managed to finish in the top ten.

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So with Joe Gibbs Racing trailing Hendrick Motorsports in third position, the first surprise may come when we look at the fifth-place team. While Brad Keselowski had a decent outing with RFK Racing as he finished eighth, is the team poised better than 23XI Racing, who managed to finish in the top 15 despite contact between the teammates and Bubba Wallace spinning twice?

But perhaps the biggest shocks are coming out of Richard Childress Racing and Stewart-Haas Racing Camp, as the two teams have been placed 8th and 9th respectively. According to Pete, 23XI, Trackhouse Racing and Frontrow Motorsports are all better placed before the season commences than SHR and RCR. While many might say that RCR is better positioned than the others owing to Busch’s second-place finish, there is no clear case in favour of SHR.

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After all, not only did Stewart-Haas Racing have a dismal outing at the Clash but the pressure on Tony Stewart also seems to be increasing by the minute.

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“I’m tired of taking the blame” – Tony Stewart’s patience with the community runs out

There is perhaps no team that is facing adversity quite like Tony Stewart. From racing in the NHRA series to managing all his racing ventures, Stewart has come under immense scrutiny for not giving the Cup Series team enough light of day. While the media content coming out of SHR during the winter break showcased an optimistic leader addressing an equally motivated team, that may have all changed after the Busch Light Clash.

Whenever Stewart-Haas Racing fails to perform, the first fingers raised are always aimed at Tony Stewart, but this time, Smoke has had enough of the community blaming him. He was quoted by NASCAR as stating, “We’ve had two miserable years in a row, and I’m tired of taking the blame from everybody for why the cars aren’t running well. I think the fans need a reality check and a reminder that I’m not the crew chief, I’m not the engineer, and I don’t dictate the setups on the cars. I give these guys the tools to do the job and we just haven’t got it done the last couple years.”

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So with the pressure on Stewart-Haas Racing increasing by the minute, has Tony Stewart finally managed to assemble the right crew for the comeback SHR desires?

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Written by:

Kabir Bajaj Ahmed

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Kabir Bajaj Ahmed is an F1 & NASCAR Writer at EssentiallySports. Known for his storytelling and extensive research skills, he has covered multiple stories on Dale Earnhard Jr and his legendary dad, allowing readers to relive the thunderous days of 'The Intimidator'. Being a racer himself, Kabir can resonate with the motorsport world better than most.
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Edited by:

Ariva Debnath

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