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Rumor Mill: Ford and Stewart-Haas Racing Splitting

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What’s Happening?

It’s been speculated that Ford and Stewart-Haas Racing have been in an unhappy marriage for some time now, and it seems the two could be on the path to splitting up. Jordan Bianchi of The Athletic had the following to say about the future of Ford and SHR in light of Ford’s recent investment in other race teams. What does the future look like for Ford and SHR?

Ford bumping Front Row up a level as Stewart-Haas Racing struggles to regain its footing and just so happens to be in its final year of a contract with Ford is not a coincidence. Indications continue to point toward SHR and Ford parting at the end of the 2024 season.

Jordan Bianchi
  • Stewart-Haas Racing joined forces with Ford in 2017. From 2017 until 2020, the pairing won 29 races, and Kevin Harvick garnered 3 consecutive Championship 4 appearances as well from 2017-2019.
  • Since 2021, however, SHR has hit a major snag. They have only won three races and went winless in 2023 for the first time since Tony Stewart bought into the team in 2009. To make matters worse, no SHR driver advanced beyond the Round of 16 in 2023.
  • Fans have begun speculating about the future of SHR and Ford as well. The big drop in performance over the past few seasons has caused many to wonder how rosy the relationship is.

The Unique Situation of Ford

Ford is the only NASCAR manufacturer with four “Tier One”, Key Partner race teams including SHR, Front Row, Team Penske, and RFK Racing. Chevy and Toyota have 3 apiece, and a big reason why Legacy Motor Club moved from Chevrolet to Toyota was because Chevy was not able to bring in another Tier One team. For more information on what exactly a “Tier One” team is, read the article below.

Bianchi notes that SHR and Ford are in the final year of their contract. Ford may be okay with supporting 4 “Tier One” teams, but, it’s also equally possible they brought in Front Row to prepare for SHR leaving. Based on Bianchi’s most recent report, the latter seems more likely.

It seems that the normal cap for manufacturers is 3 “Key Partner” race teams. This doesn’t mean that manufacturers don’t care about the other race teams that race for them, but, they can only spread their resources so far. This is what makes SHR’s future so murky.

Where Can SHR Go?

Toyota and Chevrolet both have 3 “Tier One” race teams, so, they appear to be at their max. Chevrolet, in particular since they have JTG Daugherty, Kaulig Racing, and Spire Motorsports under their umbrella. How would those three race teams react if SHR was brought in as a “Tier One” team?

Could Toyota bring in SHR as a “Tier One” team? They already have three, but, with no other Cup Series teams on their docket, they may be able to find something.

What about Honda? Honda joining NASCAR in 2025 seems like a bit of a stretch, but, it could be an interesting partnership for both sides. SHR becomes potentially the flagship organization for a manufacturer, and Honda brings in a Championship-winning race team with Tony Stewart as the face. Recent performance may knock the PR flair out of it, but it’s still worth noting.

SHR may have to accept that they will not be a “Tier One” team if they head to Chevrolet or Toyota, at least temporarily. If that means being the flagship team for someone like Honda, it could be a worthwhile investment into the future for a team that is rebuilding anyway.

The future for SHR and Ford looks very interesting. Should Honda join NASCAR, is SHR their best bet?

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