LAS VEGAS, N.v.— When it rains, it usually pours for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR).This was the case this weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in the Kobalt 400.

 

 

In the first two races of the season at Daytona International Speedway and Atlanta Motor Speedway, SHR showed that their switch to Ford was not a hinderance as they showed the upper hand by winning the Daytona 500 and dominating the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500.

 

The organization, as a whole, seemed to struggle throughout the weekend, especially during the race.

 

Kevin Harvick’s day was the first to end of the SHR stable. Harvick only completed 68 circuits. Harvick cut a tire and made hard contact with the outside wall on the front stretch.

 

“It started vibrating about four or five laps there before it blew out, and I was just trying to ride it to the end of the stage there.  Obviously, it didn’t make it. The worst part was the medical response,” said Harvick after the accident. “It took them forever to get to the car. All in all, our Mobil 1 Annual Protection Ford was running good. We were just too loose right there. It’s not like we were even tight, so it either just cut the tire, or came apart or melted the bead.”

 

Harvick finished in the 39th position, only scoring one point to his championship tptal and no playoff points. Harvick currently sits eighth in points 41 points away from the points leader, Brad Keselowski.

 

Danica Patrick has a so-so day in Las Vegas. The team was forced to change the gearbox on Saturday, resulting in the team starting from the rear of the field on Sunday. In the opening stage of the race, Patrick was having trouble on entry and exit in the corners. She finished 29th in the first stage. In the second stage, Patrick climbed into the top-20 before pit stops sat her back. She finished 28th in the second stage. In the third stage, the day went from so-so to worse for Patrick. Patrick was two laps down. She pitted under the green flag cycling her out of the top-30. She worked her way into the top-30 before she suffered mechanical woes and went to the garage.

 

“It was another day where my Aspen Dental Ford team worked hard to get me better throughout the race. There late in the race, we finally got the car to a place where I think we could have got a little more racy with it, especially if we would have caught some breaks, but then it just flattened out.  I just rode around the top in case something happened. Unfortunately, it did and having a teammate behind me was not ideal for the timing of it. We’ll just move on to Phoenix and see if we can keep improving,” said Patrick.

 

Patrick finished 36th at Las Vegas, scoring only one point. She currently sits 30th in the points standing, 95 points behind Keselowski. 

 

Kurt Busch was the third driver from the SHR stable to experience trouble. Busch started the opening stage in the 17th position, but worked his way into the top-10. However, he was battling a loose handling car that resulted in him finishing 12th in this stage. The second stage of the Kobalt 400 is where Busch began to see problems. Busch began to experience battery issues that resulted in everything except the gear fan to be turned off. The team told Busch to stay out until the second battery died. Busch would use the first battery to work his way back to pit road on lap 201. Busch lost four laps on pit road as the team changed the batteries resulting in a 30th place finish.

 

“We went through a lot today. Obviously it wasn’t the day we were hoping to have with our Monster Energy/Haas Automation Ford Fusion,” Busch stated. “We didn’t have the long-run speed or the balance, and we had an electrical issue that forced us to change batteries on pit road. We kept battling, we didn’t give up. I hoped to have a better run here in front of the hometown fans.”

 

Busch currently sits seventh in the points standings only 39 points away from Keselowski.

 

Clint Bowyer had the best day out of the SHR stable in Las Vegas. Bowyer was running strong in the first stage until he went down pit road under the lap 19 caution period. Bowyer lost several spots on the pit lane due to a slower car. Bowyer finished 19th in the first stage. In the second stage, Bowyer battled loose conditions, but battled to finish 14th. In the third stage, Bowyer found himself running the same lap-times as drivers in the top-six. Bowyer ended up finishing the race running in the 10th position.

 

“It was a struggle. To be truthful, we weren’t the best all weekend, but we just kept digging. Buga (Mike Bugarewicz) didn’t give up on the box and kept adjusting on it and got me pretty good, the best we’d been right there at the end. It’s a top-10 and gives us some momentum. It’s our third race together and we got a top-10, so we’ve got to keep digging,” said Bowyer.

 

Bowyer currently sits 12th in the points standings, 59 points back from Keselowski.

 

Despite the struggles over the weekend at Las Vegas, SHR hopes to rebound and recover at Phoenix International Raceway in the Camping World 500, the second race of NASCAR’s “West Coast Swing”.

The marriage between Danica Patrick and Nature’s Bakery, Patrick’s primary sponsor in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, has been terminated. Stewart-Haas Racing has filed suit against Nature’s Bakery. Patrick was a great fit due to her promoting healthier living and clean eating.

As first reported by the Associated Press, the $31.7 million breach of contract lawsuit accuses Nature’s Bakery of refusing to pay millions in missed payments to Stewart-Haas.

Nature’s Bakery was entering their second year of three of sponsorship with Patrick and Stewart-Haas. They were scheduled as primary sponsor for 20 races.

According to the suit, Stewart-Haas Racing raised concerns about the Nature’s Bakery sponsorship in 2016 with how they would pay the $15.2 million/year in sponsorship. Despite the concerns, Nature’s Bakery insisted that they would be able to make the payments, and Stewart-Haas accepted the deal. Shortly after the deal was announced, cash flow issues plagued Nature’s Bakery resulting if they could rework the payment schedule, but they continued to miss payments.

The suit also claims that Patrick’s use of social media in promoting “rival” products such as food and protein powders, that were liked by the Nature’s Bakery Instagram account. Nature’s Bakery claimed that Patrick was not promoting their own products enough. The issues were not apparent until Nature’s Bakery began to miss payments.

Stewart-Haas received a letter from Nature’s Bakery in December acknowledging their grievances with Patrick and stating a process of transitioning out of the sponsorship role. The letter “shocked” executives because the team was well underway with preparations for 2017. On January 19, the contract was terminated by Nature’s Bakery.

The first signs of issues with Patrick and Nature’s Bakery came at NASCAR Media Tour when she was wearing a TaxAct firesuit. TaxAct is the primary sponsor for only three races. At that time, executives from Stewart-Haas acknowledged that they were in discussions with Nature’s Bakery, but provided no further information.

Stewart-Haas released a statement acknowledging the situation:

“Nature’s Bakery is in material breach of its contract with Stewart-Haas Racing. It is an unfortunate situation, as the team has delivered on all aspects of its contract and was prepared to do so again in 2017. Ultimately, this is a situation that will be resolved in a court of law.

 Stewart-Haas Racing remains focused on its preparation for the 2017 NASCAR season where it will again field four entries in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series while also introducing a full-time NASCAR XFNITY Series team. The litigation with Nature’s Bakery will not impact the organization’s on-track efforts.”

Patrick is not the only one with sponsorship woes. Clint Bowyer also is seeking a primary sponsor. Mobil 1 is the primary sponsor of Bowyer’s car for only a select few races in 2017, but other sponsorship for Bowyer is still unknown.

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

MARTINSVILLE, Va— The weekend started out strong for Stewart-Haas Racing, but when it was time to race, that magic wore off. All four Stewart-Haas cars ended up multiple laps down.

 

In the first practice session of the weekend, Tony Stewart was 21st, Danica Patrick was fifth, Kevin Harvick was 19th, and Kurt Busch was 11th. In the second practice on Saturday morning, Stewart was ninth, Busch was 12th, Harvick was 13th, and Patrick was 14th. In the final practice session, Stewart was second, Harvick was 10th, Busch was 12th, and Patrick was 21st.

 

However, when the green flag fell, the struggles came with the Stewart-Haas cars.

 

Stewart-Haas had no cars in the top-20 by the time of race end. Harvick was the highest finisher of the SHR cars finishing in 20th, Busch was the second highest finisher at 22nd, Patrick was in the 24th position, and Stewart finished in the 26th position.

 

“We missed it.  I don’t know where, how, why, we missed it.  Even SHR (Stewart-Haas Racing) as a group we didn’t perform well.  That was not the day we needed.  Sorry to State Water Heaters, their only race of the year and we didn’t perform well for them.  We just missed it,” said Busch post-race.

 

"We were slow all weekend. We could just never get the handle on it,” said Harvick about the issues of the day.

While staying in qualifying trim throughout the opening practice, turning just seven laps, Paul Menard led the way at 177. 438 mph in opening practice at Pocono Raceway Friday afternoon. 

It's the first practice session that the No. 27 car has been atop of in 2016 season. Menard is coming off his second top-10 finish of the season at Indianapolis, which he placed 10th. This week veteran Danny Stockman took over as the crew chief for the team, replacing Justin Alexander, who was in his second season atop the pit box. 

The next trio of drivers were all from the Joe Gibbs Racing stable, led by four-time Pocono winner Denny Hamlin (177.406 mph). Looking for his first win at the track, Kyle Busch was third in practice at 177. 019 mph. Carl Edwards was fourth at 176.977 mph. 
Kevin Harvick was fifth on the board at 176.620 mph.

2015 winner, Martin Truex, Jr. was sixth on the speed chart (176. 602 mph), Joey Logano seventh (176.495 mph), rookie Chase Elliott was eighth (176.484 mph), Ryan Newman was ninth after leading the session early on (176.391 mph) and his Richard Childress Racing teammate Austin Dillon rounded out the top 10 at 175.984 mph.

Spring winner, Kurt Busch was just outside the top 10 in 14th. In his return to Pocono, Jeff Gordon was 22nd on the board, over eight-tenths of a second off the top time. Defending winner Matt Kenseth put up a lap that was 24th quick. 

Only two drivers made a run of 10 or more laps, led by Danica Patrick (171.094 mph). Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. was the other driver on that list, running 22 laps in the practice session, the most of all drivers. 

Qualifying is set to begin shortly after 4:00 p.m. ET. Brad Keselowski won the pole for the spring race eight weeks ago.
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