Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) has won 59 times in 1,324 races since its first NASCAR Cup Series race in 2009. The victories have come at every track except one – the 1.5-mile Kentucky Speedway in Sparta where the series races Sunday afternoon.
“We’d like to win at Kentucky for a lot of reasons, but making it a sweep for SHR would be cool,” said No. 14 One Cure Ford Mustang driver Clint Bowyer, who’s earned two of his 10 career victories at SHR.
SHR has not won in either of the two "roval" races at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway, but owns a win at the facility's oval configuration.
“Winning at every track is an impressive accomplishment," said Bowyer. "I still look at our team as one of the new teams in the sport, so it’s hard to believe there’s been so much success so fast. This sport is as competitive as it has ever been. Winning at every track would be a compliment to the men and women at SHR, as well as the corporate partners who make all this happen.”
SHR is owned by Gene Haas and three-time Cup Series champion Tony Stewart, who earned the organization’s first victory on June 7, 2009 at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway. SHR scored its first Daytona 500 victory in 2017 when Kurt Busch took the checkered flag, and has notched championships with Stewart in 2011 and Kevin Harvick in 2014.
Harvick’s 30 victories are the most of any driver in an SHR car. Stewart won 16 times, Kurt Busch six, Ryan Newman four, Bowyer, twice, and Aric Almirola once.
Bowyer could add to the total Sunday afternoon at Kentucky.
“We were pretty good there last year,” he said. “We led 40 laps and finished sixth. It’s a tricky place. Usually, Kentucky is hit-or-miss with some really strong runs and then times you just struggle for grip. I imagine it’s going to be hot and slippery Sunday afternoon.”
Bowyer’s No. 14 Ford will carry the decals of One Cure Sunday afternoon. The One Cure project is led by the Flint Animal Cancer Center at Colorado State University. It is founded on the principle that cancer affects all creatures and that treatment breakthroughs come through collaboration between scientists and doctors working with people and animals. This approach is known as comparative oncology and it is the guiding concept of One Cure and the Flint Animal Cancer Center. The center works to improve prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer in pets, and teams with the human medical field to translate research findings that will help people with cancer.
The center, located in Colorado State’s James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital, sees more than 1,500 new animal cancer patients every year, with approximately 130 of them enrolled in carefully monitored clinical trials specific to their cancer type. The canine and feline patients are helping pioneer cancer research, moving cutting-edge treatments out of the laboratory and into clinical practice, ultimately providing hope for the next generation of animal and human cancer patients.
Bowyer’s green-and-white paint scheme will feature Winston – a golden retriever who died of cancer a few years ago, but lived longer based on the findings of a prior clinical trial.
“This is a real honor to carry the One Cure paint scheme and spread the word on all the good work Colorado State’s Flint Animal Cancer Center is doing,” Bowyer said. “Anyone who knows me or hangs around me knows how much I love animals, whether it’s our dogs or farm animals. So, helping animals is important to me but, when you can take what you know from animals and translate it to us humans, that’s just amazing and important for all of us.”
One Cure has been one of Bowyer’s partners at SHR since he climbed into the No. 14 racecar in 2018. The program’s goal is to direct fans to www.OneCure.com, where they can learn about the research and to offer financial support.
Sunday’s race marks the 13th race since the Cup Series returned from a 10-week hiatus due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic May 17. As it did at the previous 12 races, NASCAR series and team personnel in the infield will continue to operate under a comprehensive health and safety plan at Kentucky that permits no fans, limited crew, strict social distancing, and mandated personal protective equipment and health screenings for all.
Bowyer arrives at Kentucky 13th in points after finishing 16th in last Sunday’s Brickyard 400 in Indianapolis. Bowyer scored bonus points in the first two stages, but a caution just laps after he pitted under green in the final stage ruined what appeared to be a top-ten finish.
After Kentucky, only nine races remain in what is expected to be NASCAR’s 26-race regular season. A win will vault Bowyer into the NASCAR playoffs that begin in September and secure a spot in the NASCAR All-Star Race July 15 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. Without a win between now and July 15, Bowyer will race in the NASCAR All-Star Open with hopes a good run will transfer him to the All-Star Race.
As a backup plan, he is relying on the online fan vote that will send the most popular remaining driver from the Open to the All-Star Race. Fans can cast their ballots daily for Bowyer at NASCAR.com/fanvote, or by clicking here.
A win Sunday would be historic for SHR, secure a playoff spot as well as an All-Star berth for Bowyer, and bring more attention to what could literally be a lifesaving cause for both humans and pets.
That’s a lot on the line.