With Kevin Harvick retiring, Stewart-Haas Racing is looking for someone to step up and carry the banner for the race team. Four drivers are racing for the team in 2024, and each will have an equal opportunity to prove that they can be the team’s #1 driver. Which driver will be the #1 driver at Stewart-Haas Racing?
- Stewart-Haas Racing struggled massively in 2023. They failed to win a race for the first time since Tony Stewart bought the team in 2009. Only Kevin Harvick made the Playoffs, and he was eliminated after the Round of 16.
- SHR will have two new drivers in 2024, Josh Berry in the #4 and Noah Gragson in the #10. They join Chase Briscoe driving the #14 and Ryan Preece driving the #41.
- Fans are curious to see how the team does in 2024. Not everyone is certain that the team can rebound in 2024, but, some are optimistic.
Josh Berry joins the #4 team in 2024. Kevin Harvick and Rodney Childers carried this team to the Playoffs in 2024 despite no wins and the SHR struggles. Childers returns to be the crew chief for Berry, who recorded 3 top-10s in substitution duty in 2023. Both Childers and Berry have proven they can do well at the Cup Series level.
The issue with Berry is how he competes on the big tracks. Each of his Cup Series top-10s in 2023 came on tracks 1.0 miles or less in length. On intermediates and superspeedways, his average finish was 26.3, and he had only one top-20 finish at Atlanta.
If Berry wants to be the number 1 driver at SHR, he needs to improve on the big tracks. It’s unfair to expect him to become the flagship driver for the team in his rookie season, but, if he wants to become that driver, he needs to show some progress this year.
Noah Gragson can finally put a forgettable 2023 behind him by joining SHR to replace Aric Almirola in the #10 car for the 2024 season. Gragson’s incredible Xfinity Series run from 2020 to 2022 shows his raw talent. He can drive a race car, and he can win.
However, he struggled in 2023 for Legacy Motor Club before his suspension. He never registered a top-10 in 21 races, and, with his season ending early, it almost feels like he is a rookie all over again. It’s no guarantee that he will immediately compete well with SHR.
Gragson is a wild card. He could do great, but, he could also bust. If he wants to be the number 1 driver, then he has to tap into the confidence he had while in the Xfinity Series.
As strange as it sounds, Chase Briscoe is the longest-tenured driver at SHR. In 2023, he was in Playoff position before his season was derailed by a penalty after the Coca-Cola 600. If he can replicate that performance throughout the 2024 season, he could take that role as the number 1 driver for the team.
There was another major difference between Briscoe’s first 14 races and his last 22 races in 2023, his crew chief. Richard Boswell moved to the #14 team two races after the Charlotte penalty, and Briscoe had only 3 top-10s in those final 20 races. Will Briscoe and Boswell find a way to right the ship in 2024?
Now that Briscoe and Boswell will have a chance in the Cup Series without a 120-point penalty hanging over their head, they could turn the corner in 2024. Briscoe may still be relatively young, but, being at SHR the longest has put him in a potential leadership role. He may be the most likely option for the #1 driver at SHR.
When your season is best known for the sport’s most horrifying accident of the year, that’s usually not a great season. Ryan Preece struggled in 2023, but, he also showed flashes of brilliance. He won the pole at Martinsville, and he seemed to have the best car before a speeding penalty ruined his day.
The problem with Preece is those performances are few and far between. He did have some good races, but, those races were far outweighed by his struggling races.
Preece seems unlikely to become the #1 driver, but, sometimes a second season can see improvement. He’s going to have to turn his top-15 and top-20 runs into consistent top-10s in order to become that top driver.
Which of these drivers do you feel will be the #1 driver at SHR in 2024? This is a big year for everyone involved in the race team.