When you look at the “big” teams in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing and Team Penske are pretty much the “big 3” in the sport. Each, are top dogs for their own manufacturers. Back in the 70s, 80s and 90s, it was Richard Petty Motorsports and Richard Childress Racing. Then, it was made into those three.
But, one team owner is saying not so fast.
Tony Stewart bought into Gene Haas’ racing team for the 2009 season. He left a stable ride at JGR to join a team that was a backmarker. Instantly, Stewart turned things around with the organization. Stewart, went to victory lane four times total during that 2009 season. In fact, 15 of Stewart’s 49 career Cup victories have come under his own umbrella.
But, things really came around and got emotional for Stewart when he went on a terror in the 2011 playoffs and won his third career Cup championship, his first as an owner/driver. All that hardwork and determination made with the difficult decision to leave a proven winner to start up his own team, paid off.
Stewart has since retired, but it doesn’t mean the success has tapered off any.
On Sunday, Kevin Harvick will attempt to win his second career Cup championship. Both of which would have occurred with SHR. The other was 2015. If Harvick can win the 2017 title at the Homestead-Miami Speedway this weekend, it would be the second championship in the last three seasons for the team. If you count Stewart’s title in 2011, SHR would have earned three titles in seven seasons.
That’s impressive. But, counter it that they could win a title in the first year after a switch in manufacturers, and you get why this championship would be a very big deal.
From 2009 through 2016, SHR was always a Chevrolet team. But, Ford made an offer Stewart couldn’t refuse. Normally, there’s some growing pains in learning a new manufacturer. After all, SHR had an alliance with Hendrick when they were with Chevy, now, they had none.
Here they are though in the hunt for a championship as they’re trying to bookend their season with their first Daytona 500 victory with Kurt Busch in February and end the season with a championship by Harvick in the season finale at Homestead.
If they can do so, they’d give Ford their first championship since 2004.