Wednesday, Dec 01

MENCS: Stewart-Haas Racing 2016 Review, 2017 Preview

Saturday, Jan 07 2137

The 2016 season began for Stewart-Haas Racing at the end of September in 2015. It was announced that driver and team owner Tony Stewart would be retiring at the end of the 2016 season after 18 years in NASCAR. It was also announced on that September day that Clint Bowyer would join HScott Motorsports in 2016 before replacing the retiring Stewart in 2017.

Stewart missed the first eight races of the 2016 season after suffering a lower back injury while riding sand dunes in January. Brian Vickers and Ty Dillon would fill in for Stewart while he nursed his injury. In his return at Richmond International Raceway, Stewart was able to finish in the 19th position. At Talladega Superspeedway, Stewart remained in the car until the first caution when Dillon would take over to help prevent anymore injury. This was the only time when Stewart did not finish a race. Stewart did not finish at Dover because of suspension damage. After terrible finishes at Charlotte and Pocono, Stewart began to heat up as the season went to the summer months. Over those summer months, Stewart was able to claim victory at Sonoma Raceway after a gutsy call by his crew chief, Mike Bugarwicz and a last lap pass in the final corner. This would end up being his final victory in the Sprint Cup Series. Stewart claimed seven top-15 finishes over the summer months with only one DNF at Talladega. However, Stewart began to cool off in mid-August. Stewart was able to make the Chase, but was eliminated in the first round. His only top-10 was a ninth place finish at Charlotte.

As the smoke settled on the career of Stewart as a NASCAR driver, Stewart had one of his better years after three dismal years. He was able to complete 7631 of the 7874 laps he ran in 2016. He was able to lead 36 laps over the season. He had five top-five’s, eight top-10’s, an average start of 24.8, an average finish of 18.3, and four DNF’s

For Kurt Busch, 2016 was a year of consistency. The season started off strong with a top-ten finish in the Daytona 500. Busch was also able to gain two poles at Atlanta and Las Vegas. He finished in the top-10 in the first four races, but that streak was broken at Fontana after a terrible weekend. Over the next eight weeks, he was able to finish in the top-10 in each race. His only win of 2016 came at Pocono Raceway in June without primary crew chief, Tony Gibson, on a race that was based on fuel strategy.  He followed the win with two top-10 finishes. Over the next 10 weeks, Busch had good weeks and bad weeks and only suffered two DNF’s at Darlington and Bristol. When the Chase began, the consistency continued. The first two rounds were consistent for Busch with top-20 finishes in all six races. In the third round, consistency was thrown out the window with a 22nd place finish at Martinsville and a 20th place finish at Texas. Busch was able to rebound at Phoenix with a fifth place finish, but came up short to compete for a championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Busch had 36 starts in 2016. He competed in 10348 of 10523 laps in the 2016 season. He was able to lead 238 laps in the season. He had nine top-five finishes, 21 top-10 finishes, an average start of 12.1, an average finish of 12.0, and two DNF’s on the season.

For Kevin Harvick, 2016 was another great year despite not racing for a championship. The season started out in the first five races with five top-five finished and a win at Phoenix International Raceway where he edged Carl Edwards by .008 seconds. His top-five streak broke at Martinsville with a 17th place finish, but he quickly rebounded for three-top-five finishes. Harvick won his first pole at Richmond and then three weeks later at Dover. After much speculation about Harvick leaving SHR after 2017, the rumors were put to rest when he signed a long term contract extension. The next four races saw Harvick finish in the top-five four times before a crash at Daytona resulted in a 39th place finish. He was able to rebound with a pole at Kentucky and four more top-five finishes before a crash at Watkins Glen. Despite that wreck, Harvick captured victory at Bristol Motor Speedway. Entering into the Chase, Harvick scored one more pole at Darlington and three more top-five finishes to become the regular season points leader. The opening round of the Chase saw Harvick have two bad finishes at Chicago and Dover, but his win at New Hampshire allowed for him to transfer into the next round. The second round kicked off with a 38th place finish at Charlotte, but a win at Kansas to move onto the third round. Harvick was consiststent in the third round, but a 20th place finish at Martinsville ruined his chances at a championship. Despite not being in the championship four, he scored the pole at Homestead and a third place finish to finish 2016.

Harvick competed in all 36 races. He competed in 10215 of 10523 laps in the season. He led 1384 laps throughout the season, and was the “regular” season point leader before the Chase began. He had 17 top-five’s, 27 top-10’s, an average start of 11.7, an average finish of 9.9, and only four DNF’s.

2016 was another lackluster season for Danica Patrick. The season started with a 35th place finish in the Daytona 500 with a crash. Patrick’s best finish of 2016 came in October at Charlotte Motor Speedway with a finish in the 11th position. Her worst finish was 38th at Fontana when she was caught up in an accident on the speedway. She ended up finishing 24th in the final points standings.

Patrick competed in all 36 races. She competed in 10326 of 10523 laps in 2016. She only led 30 laps throughout the season. She had zero top-five’s, zero top-10’s , an average start of 25.1, an average finish of 22.0, and three DNF’s

Despite not contending for a championship, the 2016 was a year of transition for the Stewart-Haas organization. 2017 will be an interesting year for the organization with the transition to Ford and the addition of a NASCAR Xfinity Series program. It will also be interesting to see how Bowyer does in his first season with the organization. For Patrick, 2017 is a crucial year for her in NASCAR. Harvick and Busch should come back even stronger in 2017The 2016 season began for Stewart-Haas Racing at the end of September in 2015. It was announced that driver and team owner Tony Stewart would be retiring at the end of the 2016 season after 18 years in NASCAR. It was also announced on that September day that Clint Bowyer would join HScott Motorsports in 2016 before replacing the retiring Stewart in 2017.

Stewart missed the first eight races of the 2016 season after suffering a lower back injury while riding sand dunes in January. Brian Vickers and Ty Dillon would fill in for Stewart while he nursed his injury. In his return at Richmond International Raceway, Stewart was able to finish in the 19th position. At Talladega Superspeedway, Stewart remained in the car until the first caution when Dillon would take over to help prevent anymore injury. This was the only time when Stewart did not finish a race. Stewart did not finish at Dover because of suspension damage. After terrible finishes at Charlotte and Pocono, Stewart began to heat up as the season went to the summer months. Over those summer months, Stewart was able to claim victory at Sonoma Raceway after a gutsy call by his crew chief, Mike Bugarwicz and a last lap pass in the final corner. This would end up being his final victory in the Sprint Cup Series. Stewart claimed seven top-15 finishes over the summer months with only one DNF at Talladega. However, Stewart began to cool off in mid-August. Stewart was able to make the Chase, but was eliminated in the first round. His only top-10 was a ninth place finish at Charlotte.

As the smoke settled on the career of Stewart as a NASCAR driver, Stewart had one of his better years after three dismal years. He was able to complete 7631 of the 7874 laps he ran in 2016. He was able to lead 36 laps over the season. He had five top-five’s, eight top-10’s, an average start of 24.8, an average finish of 18.3, and four DNF’s

For Kurt Busch, 2016 was a year of consistency. The season started off strong with a top-ten finish in the Daytona 500. Busch was also able to gain two poles at Atlanta and Las Vegas. He finished in the top-10 in the first four races, but that streak was broken at Fontana after a terrible weekend. Over the next eight weeks, he was able to finish in the top-10 in each race. His only win of 2016 came at Pocono Raceway in June without primary crew chief, Tony Gibson, on a race that was based on fuel strategy.  He followed the win with two top-10 finishes. Over the next 10 weeks, Busch had good weeks and bad weeks and only suffered two DNF’s at Darlington and Bristol. When the Chase began, the consistency continued. The first two rounds were consistent for Busch with top-20 finishes in all six races. In the third round, consistency was thrown out the window with a 22nd place finish at Martinsville and a 20th place finish at Texas. Busch was able to rebound at Phoenix with a fifth place finish, but came up short to compete for a championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Busch had 36 starts in 2016. He competed in 10348 of 10523 laps in the 2016 season. He was able to lead 238 laps in the season. He had nine top-five finishes, 21 top-10 finishes, an average start of 12.1, an average finish of 12.0, and two DNF’s on the season.

For Kevin Harvick, 2016 was another great year despite not racing for a championship. The season started out in the first five races with five top-five finished and a win at Phoenix International Raceway where he edged Carl Edwards by .008 seconds. His top-five streak broke at Martinsville with a 17th place finish, but he quickly rebounded for three-top-five finishes. Harvick won his first pole at Richmond and then three weeks later at Dover. After much speculation about Harvick leaving SHR after 2017, the rumors were put to rest when he signed a long term contract extension. The next four races saw Harvick finish in the top-five four times before a crash at Daytona resulted in a 39th place finish. He was able to rebound with a pole at Kentucky and four more top-five finishes before a crash at Watkins Glen. Despite that wreck, Harvick captured victory at Bristol Motor Speedway. Entering into the Chase, Harvick scored one more pole at Darlington and three more top-five finishes to become the regular season points leader. The opening round of the Chase saw Harvick have two bad finishes at Chicago and Dover, but his win at New Hampshire allowed for him to transfer into the next round. The second round kicked off with a 38th place finish at Charlotte, but a win at Kansas to move onto the third round. Harvick was consiststent in the third round, but a 20th place finish at Martinsville ruined his chances at a championship. Despite not being in the championship four, he scored the pole at Homestead and a third place finish to finish 2016.

Harvick competed in all 36 races. He competed in 10215 of 10523 laps in the season. He led 1384 laps throughout the season, and was the “regular” season point leader before the Chase began. He had 17 top-five’s, 27 top-10’s, an average start of 11.7, an average finish of 9.9, and only four DNF’s

2016 was another lackluster season for Danica Patrick. The season started with a 35th place finish in the Daytona 500 with a crash. Patrick’s best finish of 2016 came in October at Charlotte Motor Speedway with a finish in the 11th position. Her worst finish was 38th at Fontana when she was caught up in an accident on the speedway. She ended up finishing 24th in the final points standings.

Patrick competed in all 36 races. She competed in 10326 of 10523 laps in 2016. She only led 30 laps throughout the season. She had zero top-five’s, zero top-10’s , an average start of 25.1, an average finish of 22.0, and three DNF’s

Despite not contending for a championship, the 2016 was a year of transition for the Stewart-Haas organization. 2017 will be an interesting year for the organization with the transition to Ford and the addition of a NASCAR Xfinity Series program. It will also be interesting to see how Bowyer does in his first season with the organization. For Patrick, 2017 is a crucial year for her in NASCAR. Harvick and Busch should come back even stronger in 2017

Caleb Whisler

I am 19 years old from Atlanta, GA. I have been following motorsports since I was born. Motorsports has been "passed down" in my family. I am named after NASCAR Hall of Famer, William Caleb Yarborough, also known as Cale. Growing up in the southeast, racing was something that was a Sunday tradition after church. What an honor it is to share that passion with others.

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