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Tony Stewart and Partner Could Be Forced to Sell Few of Their Charters After the 2024 Season

Published 02/18/2024, 2:09 PM EST

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Bad news has hit the Ford camp again. No, we’re not talking about Team Penske, RFK Racing, or Front Row Motorsports. Fresh rumors about a possible charter sale have been making the rounds in the NASCAR world yet again, and this time, the unpleasant news is being associated with Tony Stewart’s Stewart-Haas Racing.

Following their dismal 2023 campaign, SHR fans were hoping for a major turnaround, especially with new and promising faces like Josh Berry and Noah Gregson in the mix. However, as we near the biggest spectacle of the year, the Daytona 500, we have some alarming news for Ford fans coming in from the SHR camp – a possible charter sale aiming to downsize the four-car team.

Tony Stewart and Gene Haas might downsize SHR to stay relevant

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No true NASCAR fan can stand and witness their favorite team slowly succumbing to time. But that was a reality most SHR fans had to live through in 2023, seeing their favorites being beaten by smaller teams like FRM and RFK Racing. Safe to say, all four SHR drivers were more like a spent cannon, unable to fire and rack up a win.

Even the team’s champion driver – who’s also the most experienced – Kevin “Happy” Harvick, wasn’t very competitive. However, things might go from bad to worse for SHR fans as their team could no longer be a Tier-1 team for their manufacturer, Ford. The management may try to switch manufacturers, but the chances are that Tony Stewart and Gene Haas may agree to sell one or two of their charters. While this may come as a shock, this hot take comes from prominent NASCAR content creator Eric Estepp.

While Estepp has often been termed an ‘SHR hater,’ he considers himself a realist. And FRM climbing up the leader couldn’t be good for SHR, per him. Especially after the team signed a multi-year extension with Ford earlier this week to become a Tier 1 program. “When the news was announced this week that Front Row Motorsports is becoming a key Ford partner, I immediately thought about who the odd man out is going to be. And my guess? All signs point to it being Stewart-Haas Racing,” Estepp opined.

As of now, they’re locked into those four Charters, most likely because of their existing deal with Ford. “If they’re no longer a key Ford partner, if that contract changes or expires, they’re free to do what they want. I would not be shocked if they downsized between 2024 and 2025.” And they could probably fetch $50 million a piece for those charters.

Beyond that, Tony Stewart, while talking on SiriusXM NASCAR, made it pretty clear that an underperformance this year won’t be tolerated. If needed, he might have to make some harsh decisions, which could mean ending the partnership with drivers and maybe, just maybe, selling the charters. However, while SHR might lose its charters, Front Row Motorsports could be the team that expands itself.

Watch This Story | Tony Stewart’s Wife Leah Pruett Gets Emotional as She Vacates Her Racing Haven for Husband Smoke

SHR’s loss and FRM’s gain: Possible new scenario in Cup Series

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As part of a new multi-year agreement, Front Row Motorsports will become a Tier 1 program with the all-American manufacturer Ford. As part of a new technical alliance, FRM will now collaborate with Team Penske on engineering, aerodynamics, race setup, strategy, pit crew development, and other projects to up their game, essentially turning into a top team, a position that SHR will probably be leaving.

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“Our relationship with Ford has continued to build over the past decade, and we’re now showing our success over the past several seasons in the Cup and Truck Series. And that is something that I’m very proud of,” said team owner Bob Jenkins, reflecting on the massive development.

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This new update comes on the heels of the team’s driver, Michael McDowell, claiming a front-row starting spot for Sunday’s Daytona 500 in Wednesday night’s time trials at Daytona International Speedway.

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While it is good to see teams like Front Row Motorsport make their way up the sport, it will surely be unfortunate for fans to see a legendary team like SHR shrink. However, if it comes to that, which driver or team do you think Stewart can afford to lose?

FRM’s Path to a Tier One Ford Team Evident As Longtime Sponsor Does the Unthinkable

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Written by:

Kishore R

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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:

Rohan Karnad