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Does it Make Sense for Stewart-Haas Racing to Sell a Charter?

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It seems that Aric Almirola is nearing a decision, Chris Knight of Catchfence and John Roberts of Sirius XM NASCAR Radio told PRN that signs are pointing toward Almirola and his sponsor Smithfield leaving Stewart-Haas Racing at the end of the season. Within all of this chatter, Lee Spencer went on PRN earlier on Tuesday and said that two charters may be available from Stewart-Haas Racing. She did mention that Stewart-Haas Racing’s current contract with Ford expires in 2024, so, it may not be until next year year or two before the charters are sold.

We suggested that Stewart-Haas Racing could be a team that could sell a charter, but, let’s take a deeper dive at that question. Would it make sense for SHR to sell a charter?

The Performance Factor

Stewart-Haas Racing has dipped in performance in 2023, and that is no secret. Kevin Harvick is the only driver locked into the Playoffs, and everyone else on the team needs to win to make it in.

Major sponsors are leaving as well with Busch Beer moving on to Ross Chastain in 2024, and the recent report that Smithfield may be gone as well. A lot has been made about Josh Berry coming to SHR in 2024 with basically no sponsorship, and it is still uncertain how that car will be funded in 2024.

Times are tough for SHR both performance-wise and financially, and it may benefit them to scale back the amount of cars they field. It’s not an unprecedented move either. Jack Roush used to field five Cup Series cars, and, after a combination of poor performance and NASCAR rules not allowing a fifth car for a race team, Roush was eventually down to two cars by the end of the 2010s.

More recently, Rick Ware Racing, which used to field three cars, now fields only two, and they just signed their future number-1 driver, Justin Haley. Roush eventually became RFK, and now it has rekindled some of its former glory.

With four cars struggling to find performance, maybe it is time to scale back to maybe a two or three-car operation and pool more resources into just a few cars. It also makes it easier to fund fewer cars since there are fewer sponsors readily available. However, there is the question of who would be the odd man out at SHR.

Who Is the Odd Man Out?

The 2024 season may be an audition of sorts for those involved with Stewart-Haas Racing. If there are only three or even two cars available at the team starting in 2025, that means that someone is going to be out of a ride, and the drivers that perform the best will be the most likely candidates to stay with the team.

As of right now, Chase Briscoe is the most likely of those currently with SHR to stay beyond 2024. He won a race in 2022 while almost making the Round of 8. He also has shown decent speed at times this season before something gets in the way of a good finish, and he has sponsorship from Mahindra Tractors.

Ryan Preece is very likely on the hot seat given his performance in 2023. He has been an absolute non-factor outside of Martinsville this season, and even that race was decided by his own speeding penalty.

Berry is unknown as both sponsorship and performance are not known as of yet, and we do not know who will replace Almirola in 2024. If it is a younger driver like Zane Smith, then they will probably have a good chance of staying beyond 2024 just because of their rookie status.

Preece is probably the most likely driver out of SHR in 2024, but, if they sell two charters, then that makes the battle for the second car very spicy. Then again, things can change next year, and some drivers may perform better than some expected.

The drivers may be the biggest thing that holds up SHR selling charters in 2024. If some drivers begin to perform better, it may cause SHR to think a little harder about how many charters and teams they really want to keep.

Regardless, SHR is in a strange place as a race team. A lot of things can happen, and it can go multiple different ways at this point.

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