The Impact of The SHR Move to Ford
January 7, 2017
By Matteo Marcheschi
The Wide-Ranging Impacts of SHR’s Move to Ford
When Stewart-Haas Racing announced, on February 24th, 2016, that they’d switch to Ford in 2017, it shocked the NASCAR world. With two Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championships, both with Chevrolet, between 2009, when the team formed, and 2016, it was assumed that they would stay with Chevy for a long while.
This offseason has brought a host of changes for SHR. Along with the switch to the Blue Oval, Stewart retired as a driver, bringing in Clint Bowyer to drive the No. 14 in 2017, and the team added two Xfinity Series teams: The No. 00 driven full-time by Cole Custer, and the No. 41 driven part-time by Kevin Harvick. While the cementing of Custer into SHR’s future is reassuring, there’s no guarantee that the team will have the championship-winning strength that it has had with the support of Chevy.
With the switch to Ford, the team throws away something that has been vital to their success thus far: The technical support of Hendrick Motorsports. This support is irreplaceable, and they’ve been an eight-car juggernaut, winning nine of the last 11 Cup Series championships, between Jimmie Johnson (7), Kevin Harvick (1), and Tony Stewart (1).
Of course, they won’t be alone at Ford: Roush-Fenway Racing, as well as Team Penske, are big teams who have had success under the Ford banner. Also noteworthy is the fact that Penske switched to Ford from Dodge after the 2012 season, and has been immensely successful since then, scoring 28 wins between its two drivers.
SHR, then, has two paths: Either they follow Roush’s mediocrity, or rise to become the flagship team at Ford. The latter has plenty of reasons to happen. They will be the largest team in the Ford camp, double the size of both Penske and Roush, meaning they have the most resources as well. If they’re smart, they can use their resources to elevate themselves to lead the Fords to wins, and, hopefully, championships.