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Watching EllyProductions49: Stewart-Haas Racing on Life Support

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Chris Hansen

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With a former NASCAR champion at the helm, SHR has been susceptible to rough seasons as of late.

Tony Stewart, a Hall of Fame NASCAR driver/owner, joined the likes of Rick Hendrick, Joe Gibbs and Richard Childress as a new owner at NASCAR’s highest level. 2009 saw the debut of a new full-time NASCAR team in Stewart-Haas Racing, with Stewart and veteran driver Ryan Newman leading the charge.

A lot has changed since the team’s official debut that year, as EllyProductions49 explained that one of NASCAR’s most dominant organizations has fallen short of expectations the past few seasons.

A Change of Guard

As Tony Stewart neared the end of his NASCAR career, he’s orchestrated big signings of elite drivers including Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch and Clint Bowyer to race for his team.

Winning a championship with Harvick in his maiden season in 2014 proved to be one of the high points for the team as of late. With the retirement of Stewart after the 2016 season, Clint Bowyer became the latest veteran to race for Stewart’s organization along with Aric Almirola, who replaced Danica Patrick at the conclusion of 2017 after failing to win a race during her time with the team.

Fast forward to the 2018 season, and as EllyProductions49 notes, SHR had half of the field in the Round of 8 in that year’s playoffs. Over the years, Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch had been responsible for a majority of the teams’ victories before Busch signed with Chip Ganassi Racing heading into 2019.

Harvick continued his impressive display, winning 4 races and reaching the Championship 4 that season, while 2 of his teammates made the playoffs but couldn’t advance past the Round of 8.

The 2020 season saw a series best 9 wins for Harvick, however he couldn’t sustain that success in the playoffs after a subpar effort at Martinsville cost him a chance at a championship. That season teammates Almirola, Bowyer, and rookie Cole Custer struggled to show race winning speed, with Custer scoring his first Cup win at Kentucky on a late race restart.

Where Are They Headed?

EllyProductions49 notes that over the course of his time at Stewart-Haas, Kevin Harvick has by far been the most consistent of any driver, boasting the best average finish over multiple seasons. After falling just short of a second Cup title, Harvick led the charge into 2021, joined by Almirola, Custer, and newcomer Chase Briscoe to pilot the car of his boyhood hero Tony Stewart.

That season, SHR experienced a downward spiral in overall performance, with all 4 teams struggling at times. Aric Almirola’s New Hampshire win marked the lone bright spot of the season, as Harvick failed to reach victory lane for the first time at SHR.

With the introduction of the Next Gen car in 2022, many wondered whether or not the struggles would continue. Aside from Chase Briscoe’s early win at Phoenix and back-to-back wins from Harvick at Michigan and Richmond late in the season, the teams of Almirola and Custer struggled to produce results.

Through the early part of 2023, SHR hasn’t shown the speed to contend for wins in the final season of Kevin Harvick’s final season. Chase Elliott, who’s missed 7 races due to injury and suspension has leapfrogged 3 of the 4 SHR drivers (Almirola, Preece and Briscoe) despite running fewer races.

With Josh Berry coming onboard starting in 2024, is Stewart-Haas Racing headed toward a full rebuild with the status of Aric Almirola in question beyond 2023 and the lackluster seasons of Ryan Preece and Chase Briscoe?

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Picture of Chris Hansen

Chris Hansen

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