Stewart-Haas Racing has won two NASCAR Cup Series titles (2011 and 2014), as well as 69 races since its inception in 2009.
However, the four-car team has been on a downturn since 2021 and things appeared to get worse with the introduction of the Next Gen car. Last season, they failed to win a single race for the very first time. Kevin Harvick was the only SHR driver to make the playoffs, but was eliminated in the first round. His three teammates all ended the year outside the top-20 in points.
Harvick and fellow veteran Aric Almirola are now gone, leaving the struggling team with four young drivers. There is just one career win between all of them, belonging to Chase Briscoe. Josh Berry and Noah Gragson are new to the organization for 2024. They’ve also lost some significant sponsors, including Anheuser-Busch and Smithfield.
Noah Gragson, Stewart Haas Racing, Rush Truck Centers Ford Mustang
Photo by: Lesley Ann Miller / Motorsport Images
Speaking on the performance issues, Stewart told SiriusXM NASCAR radio: “You gotta sit there and be smart and analyze what’s going on (and) why it’s going on. But it’s our job to make sure if things aren’t going right, that we’re making the right adjustments to make the corrections and get it right.
“Everyone in that building understands that what we did the last two years isn’t acceptable anymore and that’s not the standard this team has been accustomed to. We’ve got a lot of banners hanging from the ceiling that show we know how to do it right and we got two of those banners that show we know how to do it right for an entire season. It’s not that we don’t know how to do it, it’s just a matter of putting it together.
“This new car has really been a struggle for our organization and it’s like I told these guys… Everything is in front of us now. There’s nothing behind us. It’s not like you’re looking for someone chasing you down. We’ re at the bottom of the barrel in my opinion and our performance is already in the tank.
“We have nothing but everything in front of us, so don’t look behind, don’t look over your shoulder, and make sure that you understand that every one of these people in the room are all working for the same reasons and you got to have each other’s back. I think that resonated with our group and they realize that we gotta get our noses to the ground. Not that they haven’t been working hard before, but they are going to have to find something or find people that will find it because we can’t perform at this level. It’s just not acceptable anymore.”
Chase Briscoe, Stewart Haas Racing, Mahindra Tractors Ford Mustang
Photo by: Gavin Baker / NKP / Motorsport Images
It certainly wasn’t a Ford issue, as RFK Racing won three races and Team Penske earned his second consecutive Cup Series title. SHR has also been hit with several significant penalties over the past two years, which have also set them back.
Stewart also made it clear that if the on-track performance does not improve, changes will be made.
“If we’re not having the results we’re looking for, we’re going to start making some major changes,” said Stewart. “Everybody knows that. Everybody understands that. It doesn’t mean we gotta go out and win eight or ten races this season, but we need to see the needle move in the right direction. “We need to make progress.”