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Stewart-Haas Racing is STILL Treading Water

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North Carolina Moonshine and Motorsports Trail

What’s Happening?

Stewart-Haas Racing had a forfettable 2023, so, their 2024 season was all about one thing, rebuilding. New drivers in new places and even an entirely new race car welcomed SHR in 2024. With the season now five races old, has SHR shown any signs of either improvement or regression in 2024?

  • In 2023, SHR went winless for the first time since Tony Stewart bought into the team in 2009. Kevin Harvick was the only driver to make the Playoffs, but, he was bounced out in the Round of 16. Everyone else finished 22nd or worse in the final standings.
  • This offseason, Kevin Harvick and Aric Almirola stepped away, opening the door for Josh Berry and Noah Gragson to join the team. Chase Briscoe and Ryan Preece returned to their seats for 2024.
  • Fans are very pessimistic about SHR. With how much they struggled in 2023, the reputation has gone from that of a winning team to a struggling team.

Comparing 2024 to 2023

As of this writing, four races into 2024, SHR sits as follows in the points standings: 19th (Chase Briscoe), 27th (Josh Berry), 32nd (Noah Gragson), and 34th (Ryan Preece). Compare that to how they finished the season in 2023: 13th (Kevin Harvick), 22nd (Aric Almirola), 23rd (Ryan Preece), and 30th (Chase Briscoe). Obviously, that’s a big drop-off compared to 2023, but, there are a couple of other pieces to consider.

Gragson and Preece incurred a 35-point penalty at Las Vegas, and taking that away would put them in 22nd and 23rd in points respectively, the same spot as Almirola (Driver of the #10) and Preece in 2023. In 2023, Chase Briscoe had a 120-point penalty, and dropping that would put Briscoe 23rd in points, dropping Preece to 24th. If the penalties did not happen, SHR’s average point standing in 2023 would be 20.5 compared to 22.75 in 2024.

That’s still statistically worse, but, given the fact that SHR lost a Hall of Fame driver in Kevin Harvick, it’s not unexpected. SHR is putting up about the same results they did throughout 2023, and they also have a big penalty dropping them further down in the points standings than they should be.

The only car that is performing significantly better is the #14 with Chase Briscoe, and that’s primarily because he does not have a 120-point penalty hanging over his head. The only car performing significantly worse is the #4 car with Josh Berry, and he is a rookie. SHR is doing no more than treading water.

Is Treading Water Good or Bad for SHR?

SHR is in the midst of a rebuild. With Kevin Harvick gone, they are relying on a rookie in Josh Berry, a driver who has never completed a full-season in Noah Gragson, a one-time winner in Chase Briscoe, and a short-track ace in Ryan Preece.

They also are rebuilding their race cars to an extent. Ford debuted the new Mustang Dark Horse this season, and Ford teams have struggled to get a handle on it overall. Of the bottom 10 drivers currently in points, 8 of them are Ford drivers, and only 1 Ford driver is in the top 10 in points.

SHR is not the only Ford team that is struggling. They are working out the kinks of the new car alongside teams like Team Penske and Front Row. Then again, SHR may not be with Ford forever.

At the end of the day, SHR is not the same team they once were. They are now working their way up from a struggling season, and Tony Stewart was very clear about that to his employees during the off-season. However, that doesn’t mean SHR is content with where they are currently.

SHR wants to get back to being a top-performing organization. That’s their goal, and that’s the standard they set throughout the 2010s. While treading water may be about what the outsiders expected of them, they don’t want to stay here. More drastic changes could be coming soon if the performance does not get any better.

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