Stewart-Haas Racing will give Ford 13 teams in the series beginning next year, as Tony Stewart and Gene Haas have made the decision to switch the branding on their four cars from Chevrolet to Fusion. They will join the likes of Roush Fenway Racing, Team Penske, Front Row Motorsports, and Richard Petty Motorsports.
Naturally, Wednesday’s announcement brought questions on how this change would impact the already existing Ford teams.
“Through Raj’s (Nair, Chief Technical Officer of Ford Motor Company) support and the reorganization within Ford, we’ve been increasing our involvement and our technical support of all of our teams. This is just going to be another addition," said Dave Pericak, the Global Director of Ford Performance. “We’re not eliminating or reducing support of any of our current teams. We are going to make available to Stewart-Haas the exact same level of support
“We’re continually increasing that support each and every day. We’re in this to win it and we’re in this to get back in that winner’s circle, so everyone will get the support that they’ve been getting, and Stewart-Haas will be in addition to that."
For SHR, the move is about stability while branching out on their own and away from the shadow of Hendrick Motorsports. Ford, meanwhile, has landed another top organization as they look to increase their odds of winning races and getting back to the head table in Las Vegas.
Their 2004 title came with Jack Roush, who has fielded a Ford in the series since he began competing in 1988. It was the organization’s second championship, coming a year after winning their first in 2003 with Matt Kenseth. Over the course of 29 years and their 3,343 races to date, Roush Fenway has been to Victory Lane 135 times.
But it could be argued Roush has not been the flagship Ford team in recent years. The organization has seen a decline in performance the past few seasons, which includes going winless and not qualifying a car for the Chase last year. Over the previous three years, Roush has won just five times. They’ve also lost two of their cornerstone drivers – both Joe Gibbs Racing – in Kenseth and Carl Edwards.
Whereas Roush has slipped, however, Team Penske has nicely filled the void.
Roger Penske, who ran Fords between 1994 and 2002, returned to the blue oval family ahead of the 2013 season. His drivers, Brad Keselowski, and Joey Logano, have already racked up 20 victories while consistently being Ford’s shining stars.
With Stewart-Haas now in the fold, Ford Performance gains the championship drivers of Kurt Busch and Kevin Harvick, in addition to Stewart’s, who will be retired, three titles. Ford couldn’t help but be enticed by the possibilities.
Yet Jack Roush and Ford have continued to put money and resources into turning the organization around. The addition of Stewart-Haas, according to Pericak, will not change their relationship.
“We mentioned already that we’re excited to add a championship-level team like Stewart-Haas to our portfolio. We definitely are very serious about winning championships. I think we demonstrated that passion to do so and there is no doubt that the Stewart-Haas team comes with that capability," Pericak said. “That’s really important to us to be adding that to our lineup.
“As far as what it means for Roush Fenway, we’ve been partners with Roush Fenway for a long time. We’re committed to them and we look forward to continuing a relationship with Roush Fenway. This doesn’t have anything to do with that. This is really about adding an already strong Ford team and making it even stronger, and aligning all of our teams around the vision that we have of getting back in the winner’s circle." Popular Speed