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SHR is in a Slump, but How Do they Dig Out of it?

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It is no secret that Stewart-Haas Racing is in a major slump as of right now. Three of their four drivers sit 25th or worse in the standings. The only driver currently in the Playoffs is Kevin Harvick, and he is on the verge of retiring. Stewart-Haas Racing has hired their replacement for Harvick in Josh Berry, but Harvick’s main sponsor, Busch Beer, is also leaving.

What more can Stewart-Haas Racing do to improve their situation in NASCAR? Here are a few things that they can look to doing. None of these are be-all end-all, but they are suggestions for what they could do.

Revamp Their Xfinity Series Roster

Stewart-Haas Racing’s Xfinity Series roster is not the most inspiring roster out there. Riley Herbst still has not won a race, but he has been remarkably consistent. Cole Custer has had a career resurgence with two wins in his return to the Xfinity Series, but his Cup Series stint left a lot to be desired.

However, there is not a bonafide superstar waiting in the wings at Stewart-Haas Racing. Bringing in some big-time driving talent in the lower series could help them be more marketable to sponsors in the longer term. Plus it would work in the short-term scenario as well.

As Stewart-Haas Racing looks at rebuilding in the Cup Series, it is probably not the best decision to bring in a young driver too quickly. Letting them develop in the Xfinity Series for a bit could be good. If Zane Smith does not find a Cup ride, he could be an option for somebody like this, and speaking of Zane Smith…

Lock Up Zane Smith

Zane Smith is the best Ford driver in the lower series as of right now. If Front Row Motorsports is unable to snag him up, Stewart-Haas Racing needs to look at bringing him in in some capacity. This could be another young driver to build the team around alongside the veterans of Josh Berry and Ryan Preece.

They need to find a way to lock Smith up before Front Row Motorsports potentially does in the Cup Series. If Front Row gets him, and the improvement continues, then Stewart-Haas Racing could be out of a big-name prospect. But, if they lose Zane Smith, there is another option.

Switch OEM’s

Stewart-Haas Racing could fall lower down the Ford pecking order if performance continues to drop. Ford also does not have a lot to choose from in the lower series with Stewart-Haas Racing being the only major Ford team in the Xfinity Series.

If Stewart-Haas Racing were to switch OEMs that could open up their options when it comes to driver recruitment. They may want to see how the switch plays out at Legacy Motor Club before considering this because the grass is not always greener on the other side. However, it could work for Stewart-Haas Racing.

Bring Another Owner Into the Group

RFK Racing was once in a very similar position to the current Stewart-Haas Racing. Once a five-car powerhouse, Jack Roush was dropped to two cars by the late 2010s. In 2022, Brad Keselowski joined the fray as a part-owner of the operation, and the team slowly started to get results.

This season, both Keselowski and Chris Buescher are solidly in the Playoffs, and Buescher even won the Bristol Night Race last fall. I took some time and a new voice in the room, but RFK Racing is slowly building their way up.

Maybe Tony Stewart and Gene Haas could be well-served with bringing someone new into the ownership group, even if it is just through a technical alliance. Maybe it could take more time than RFK Racing, but it could bring someone new into the room. Sometimes having just that one outside voice can help steer a ship back in the right direction.

Conclusion

It is not that easy to dig out of the situation that Stewart-Haas Racing is in right now, but they can dig out of it. Hendrick Motorsports was in the midst of a rebuild with young drivers in 2018, and now two of the last three Cup Series champions have been Hendrick Motorsports drivers. It can be done.

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Joshua Lipowski

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