In case you’ve been camping out under some kind of rock today, the talk in the racing world, at least within the NASCAR community, all day today has centered around Stewart-Haas Racing’s announcement Wednesday morning of a manufacturer switch from Chevrolet to Ford in 2017.
After processing the shocking news for a few hours, I thought I’d take a few minutes to get down a few thoughts, and admittedly, some of them are pretty off the wall.
First of all, I applaud SHR on keeping this one under wraps. I mean, after all, who saw this announcement coming? I sure didn’t, and it doesn’t seem like anyone other than those close to the situation did, either. And when was the last time that happened? I mean, when was the last time in NASCAR Nation that news didn’t leak out before those involved made an official announcement? I don’t even remember. How long did we know about Tony Stewart’s impending retirement before Stewart, himself, announced it? Seemed like months. It probably wasn’t that long, but it sure seemed like it.
Granted, the reasoning for this announcement coming so early in the previous season was to beat the rumor mill and media hounds to the punch. Mission accomplished.
That being said, according to SHR co-owner Stewart in a teleconference earlier today, the deal between his team and Ford was in the works for about six months. While the announcement came very early to beat others to the punch, I think hearty congratulations are in order for shocking the rest of the NASCAR community.
On the surface, this may look like a bad idea for Stewart-Haas Racing, but after hearing Stewart’s explanation of at least part of the motivation, it made sense. Frankly put, he didn’t want his team riding Hendrick Motorsports’ proverbial coattails anymore. In the Ford camp, it’s sounding like SHR is going to build its own chassis and hand its own bodies.
Face it. Stewart-Haas was never going to be the top dog at Chevrolet. At Ford, though, SHR will probably give Team Penske a run for its money in regards to that title. And as far as Roush Fenway Racing goes, I’ll believe that organization has turned things around and has quit treading water when I see it. What have you done for me lately? As far as Roush Fenway goes, not a whole heck of a lot.
Here are some other interesting factoids to consider or swallow:
– Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing driver, has never driven anything other than a Chevrolet at the Cup level. Heck, has he driven anything other than Chevrolets in any of NASCAR’s national series? From what I can tell, no, even going back to his Truck Series debut in 1995.
– Meanwhile, Stewart’s been so tied to Chevrolet, or at least GM, and not just when it comes to his Tony Stewart Racing sprint car operation. Remember Stewart’s departure from Joe Gibbs Racing to become half of Stewart-Haas? Reportedly, he wanted to return to GM after driving a Toyota for a year at JGR after that team switched from Pontiac to Toyota. Was that just blowing smoke to make Chevy happy? Maybe a product of some kind of anything but Toyota attitude? Besides, I admit I got hooked on Stewart’s Periscope sessions of 2015 and pretty sure I remember one of Stewart having an issue with his Indiana property manager driving a Ford. Maybe that was just some good-natured ribbing.
– How does the upcoming partnership affect current partnerships, specifically Stewart-Haas with Chevrolet and Stewart-Haas with Hendrick Motorsports? SHR is still a Chevrolet team, so of course, Chevrolet still wants to see it do well this year. But then again, this is a team that’s going to be a part of an enemy camp next year, so how much information do you give it?
– This arrangement sure makes for some odd bedfellows, the oddest of those being Danica Patrick and Richard Petty. Granted, they’ll still be affiliated with different teams, but they’ll both be members of the Ford camp. Remember Petty saying something to the effect of Danica never winning a race unless nobody else shows up? Yeah, that was a zinger.
– On the bright side, Ricky (Stenhouse Jr.) and Danica Patrick don’t have to deal with the headache of deciding whether they’re taking a Ford or Chevrolet to dinner, and therefore, which manufacturer they’re going to piss off. Okay, that’s more of a light-hearted, humorous thought, but I’m pretty sure I remember early in their relationship when photos of Patrick in a Ford hit social media and even made their ways over to several news reporting sites. Oh, the horror (sarcasm)! Maybe said photos broke the Internet. Yeah, I said it. Take that, Kim and Kanye! I guess they’ll definitely be taking the Ford next year.
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