Rumors Around Stewart-Haas Racing Impending Break-Up With Ford More Significant With Recent Outings

Published 03/01/2024, 9:48 PM EST

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USA Today via Reuters

After a rather tumultuous 2023 season, Ford powerhouse Stewart-Haas Racing might look for a different route as Tony Stewart and Co. reach the end of their contractual obligation with the manufacturer. This might be one of the most depressing break-ups in NASCAR in recent times, and it comes amidst speculation that the team is downsizing itself from a four-car team.

SHR’s significant drop in performance in recent years has almost shadowed the team’s achievements in the sport. Adding to this is a fellow Ford stable, Front Row Motorsports’ rise. In the past few years, the humble two-car owned by Bob Jenkins has made major strides in terms of performance, winning the 2021 Daytona 500 and Michael McDowell’s spectacular Indy finish last year.

Can the Stewart Haas Racing loss be FRM’s gain?


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Struggling to rack up a win in 2023, Ford’s behemoth and premier team, Stewart-Haas Racing, was at an all-time low, with all four of its ace drivers failing to deliver and rise to the occasion. Even its 2014 Cup Series champion, Kevin Harvick, couldn’t do anything significant to get the team past the regular season, and that too solely on points. Since 2021, Stewart Haas Racing has only won three races and went winless in 2023 for the first time since Tony Stewart joined the team in 2009.

However, even that ended in sorrow as the #4 driver was among the few who got evicted from the tournament in the very first playoff eliminator in Bristol. From an OEM’s perspective, SHR’s stock has been on a downward spiral like never before, with all four of its cars misfiring on all cylinders. On the other side is a small, less resourceful team, Front Row Motorsports, which has been breaking its limit.

For the uninitiated, Ford has not only extended its partnership with Front Row Motorsports but also elevated the two-car to its “Tier 1 program,” entering into a technical alliance with Team Penske, Ford’s flagship NASCAR organization. Now, this is a significant achievement, and this is pretty evident in its performance as McDowell snagged a spectacular qualifying performance at Atlanta, grabbing the pole.

Also, with FRM moving up the ladder to become a key partner, Chevy now has three key partner teams (Hendrick, RCR, and Trackhouse), and Toyota has three (JGR, 23XI, and Legacy), so why would Ford have four (SHR, Penske, RFK, and Front Row)? These are the questions analysts and enthusiasts alike have lingering in their heads.

While Stewart Haas Racing remains a “Tier 1 program,” a projection in its graph is necessary to keep the ball rolling with Ford. Moreover, the #34’s charts have only been going up, laps led, and average finish all have gone up as the driver improved his season standings from 23rd in 2022 to 15th in 2023. Adding fuel to the speculations is SHR’s contractual obligation with Ford, which ends this year and started back in 2017, and with Ford promoting a fellow team and providing it with technical help, SHR will most probably switch sides, hoping for a major turnaround.

No appeal from SHR for roof air deflectors


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NASCAR dropped the hammer on SHR when it looked like the team was off to a good start with its young sensation, Noah Gragson, racking up a top-10 finish in Daytona. Both Gragson’s #10 Ford and his teammate Ryan Preece‘s #41 Ford were caught with improper roof air deflectors, and the parts were confiscated in the pre-race inspection.


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But as we get to another race week, the time has come and gone for the team to appeal the penalties handed down for improper roof air deflectors. The #10 and #41 teams received a penalty of 35 driver and owner points as a result of the decision. This is a part teams make in-house, but it did not meet specifications, and it looks like this organization can’t stop making mistakes like this.


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The news was shared by Fox Sports’ Bob Pockrass on his “X” handle. This now becomes another humiliating run-in with the organization, as SHR seems like it is the most penalized team in Next-Gen’s era, with Chase Briscoe‘s penalty spree being one of the sport’s most hefty ones. The penalty spree, the significant drop in performance, and its driver’s inconsistency all make things bitter, but will Stewart Haas Racing Parts join Honda, which is most likely to join NASCAR in 2025? Only time will tell.

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Written by:

Kishore R


One take at a time

Kishore is a NASCAR Writer at EssentiallySports. He actively covers live events and does detailed race analyses, helping fans understand the very nitty gritties of the sport. Using the right mix of storytelling and game expertise, Kishore can take his readers on a journey to see how a particular race was for some of their most loved drivers, like Kyle Busch and Chase Elliott.
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Edited by:

Shivali Nathta