When announcements were made by Stewart-Haas Racing not too long ago that Kevin Harvick was joining the team and that Ryan Newman would be relieved of his driving duties with the organization at season’s end, said announcements cited a lack of sponsorship as the reasoning behind Newman not returning to the seat of the No. 39 for 2014. But was that really the case?
On the surface, it made perfect sense. After all, Harvick was bringing along Budweiser, his current sponsor at Richard Childress Racing, with him to SHR. Harvick had a sponsor, but Newman didn’t.
What casts doubt, at least in my mind, are recent rumblings of Stewart-Haas Racing making a formal offer to Kurt Busch for a full-time ride next year. Both ESPN and FOX Sports, among other media outlets, have been reporting that anonymous sources with SHR have confirmed that such an offer has been made. Busch hasn’t confirmed or denied the reports and Stewart-Haas Racing has only issued this vague response:
“Stewart-Haas Racing constantly strives to improve itself, and expansion is something that is often discussed. If the right opportunity presents itself, it’s something the team will certainly consider.”
But what about the lack of sponsorship issue? I’m sure Furniture Row wouldn’t leave the No. 78, currently driven by Busch, to head over to Stewart-Haas Racing to sponsor a car there. After all, Furniture Row owns the No. 78; that’s why it’s called Furniture Row Racing.
According to the FOX Sports report, Haas/CNC would be willing to sponsor Busch in a fourth Stewart-Haas entry next year. Haas/CNC is sort of an in-house sponsor when you consider that the Haas in Haas/CNC is none other than Gene Haas, the Haas in Stewart-Haas Racing.
If that’s the case, I guess Haas is willing to fork over money for Busch that he wasn’t for Newman, so if you look at it that way, I guess it kind of is a sponsorship-related decision. But when said sponsor is half owner of the team, it seems more like a firing of one driver in favor of another than letting a driver go because you can’t find a sponsor.
After the announcement of Newman’s firing, Stewart claimed that SHR couldn’t support a fourth team. Really? So Haas’ company couldn’t foot the bill a few months ago, but it can now? Maybe the folks at Stewart-Haas should just admit that they preferred Harvick over Newman.
After news got out of Newman’s firing, Newman said multiple times that he wanted to go somewhere where he’d be wanted. I guess he just isn’t wanted at Stewart-Haas anymore.
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