Stewart-Haas Racing has been in operation for seven years, since Tony Stewart left Joe Gibbs Racing. They have, in that time, gained more than a modicum of success with Chevrolet. Because of this success they’ve experienced, it came as a surprise to the racing world when they announced recently that they would end their involvement with Chevrolet and had signed a contract with Ford Performance.
The team made a preliminary announcement back in February of 2016, but few knew whether there would actually be a switch or if Tony and Gene Haas were just talking to raise some controversy. We now know they were serious; it’s a done deal.
Why the Move to Ford with All the Success with Chevy?
GM’s Director of Motorsports Competition Mark Kent said, “Ford hasn’t won a driver’s or manufacturer’s championship in over a decade. So obviously they’ve been looking at Chevrolet and realizing it takes great teams and great depth to be able to win championships. We’ve been able to win the last 13 manufacturers titles and nine of the last 11 driver’s championships. So Ford realized they had to do something. They made a bold move.”
Steward commented during a teleconference, “ The more we talked to the group at Ford, the more we realized that our passion and desire to win races and championships and their approach, is very much in line with how we approach it at Stewart-Haas Racing.” Stewart mentioned that talks with Ford Performance began on a casual note even before the end of the 2015 season.
“There wasn’t anything in this deal that was a disappointment from the Chevy side. We weren’t disappointed with what we were doing with Chevy, but we felt like when we got in conversations with the Ford group that it just really seemed like a partnership that made a lot of sense the further we went into it. The longer the conversation went, the more excited both sides were about making this a reality,” he explained.
SHR will now be making their own frames, while Doug Yates Racing will build their Ford-provided engines. Let’s see if they can continue their recent streak of success with a new manufacturer that hasn’t done very well at the Cup level in over a decade. However, the move takes two quite successful and two somewhat successful drivers away from Chevy and places them into the Ford camp, which can only do good things for the manufacturers’ points totals.