Thursday, Oct 21

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.—  Kurt Busch scored his first Daytona 500 victory due to the many of his fellow competitors losing fuel. This is Stewart-Haas Racings first win in a Ford. This is Busch’s first restrictor plate win since entering into the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in 2001. Busch led the most important lap, the last lap.

 

"My mirror fell off with 30 laps to go and I couldn’t even see out the back. And I thought that was an omen. Throw caution to the wind. The more unpredictability that keeps unfolding at the Daytona 500, I predicted it. It just got crazy and wild and I am so proud of all the drivers at the end. We put on a show for a full fuel run and nobody took each other out and it was one of the smartest chess games I have seen out there. All the hard work that Ford and SHR put into this -- this Ford Fusion is in Daytona’s victory lane,” said Busch in victory lane.

 

Ryan Blaney finished second, AJ Allmendinger finished third, Aric Almirola finished fourth, and Paul Menard rounded out the top-five.

 

At Daytona 500 Media Day on Wednesday, Busch stated, “It owns me.  It doesn’t owe me anything, it’s just owned me over the years.” Now, he will go down in history as a Daytona 500 champion.

 

Busch started the race from the eighth position. Busch was a darkhorse throughout much of the first stage. Busch and his Stewart-Haas teammates attempted to stay together throughout much of the race. Busch and his teammates were hitting pit road during the first segment at lap 32 when Corey LaJoie wrecked coming onto pit road. However, that did not effect their performance when the race restarted. Busch went back down pit road shortly after, and was quiet until the second stage. Kyle Busch won the first stage with Kevin Harvick in second, Blaney in third, Brad Keselowski in fourth, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. rounded out the top-five at the end of the first stage.

 

The second stage was saw a six car pileup in turn three that brought out the red flag for 17 minutes. Busch was the silent sleeper in the second stage. When the field was going back to green, Busch joined his teammates to have the top-three positions while Ford had the top-seven. The end of the segment saw Joey Logano attempt to make a pass on Harvick in the tri-oval, but was unsuccessful. Harvick won the stage, Logano was second, Ku. Busch was third, Keselowski was fourth, and Danica Patrick rounded out the top-five.

 

The third stage was wild and crazy. The field began to get ansy. The caution flew four times during the stage. The day almost ended for Ku. Busch on lap 129. Jimmie Johnson spun going into the third turn with help from Jamie McMurray. The wreck left Busch as the lone survivor of the Stewart-Haas camp to contend for the win.  Despite the damage, Ku. Busch was able to contend with the leaders. As the race began to wind down, Ku. Busch and others were being told to conserve fuel. The field ran single file for numerous laps as drivers contended to save fuel. However, drivers began to drop out of the pack because they were running out of fuel. On the final lap, Ku. Busch was running second coming off of turn two chasing Kyle Larson. Larson ran out of fuel which allowed Ku. Busch to score the victory.

 

Despite not winning the Daytona 500 as a driver, Tony Stewart was ecstatic to win the race as an owner.

 

“It’s probably the most patient race I’ve watched Kurt Busch run. He definitely deserved that one for sure. I’m really proud of everybody . Great day for Ford Performance and everybody at Stewart-Haas Racing. I think this finally gets Gene Haas all the crown jewels. This is awesome, man.”

 

The race saw 37 lead changes among 18 different drivers. The race was slowed eight times for 40 laps by caution.

 

Next up for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series is the Folds of Honor QuickTrip 500 from Atlanta Motor Speedway. Coverage from Atlanta will be on FOX and Performance Racing Network on March. 5 beginning at 2:30 p.m. EST.

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.

On Friday in Kansas, Jimmie Johnson was made available to the media. Johnson talked about his season and the relationship with Stewart-Haas Racing with their move to Ford next year.

 

When asked about loosing the information from Stewart-Haas, Johnson stated, “You know that environment is tricky.  Just to be selfishly speaking on Hendrick Motorsports the Stewart-Haas relationship we didn’t get their data.  We didn’t share their data, they had ours.  So, it was a fantastic situation for them. They had our best stuff and then they have a huge engineering staff and they can take Hendrick’s best equipment and refine it and make it better.”

 

“There were some things going on that were helpful and data was moving around a little bit, but they really had all the rights to our stuff; we didn’t have the rights to theirs.  It’s tricky.  If Mr. Hendrick can raise the money to not have that relationship, I think for us, selfishly it is better not to. We would always like to have some people running our engines and trying to do durability stuff on new motors that are coming out,” Johnson continued, “I would imagine having a couple of cars out there we will always have that, but a team at that high of caliber again, I believe we would look really hard before we made that decision again.” 

 

However, Johnson’s comments were not up to the standards of Doug Duchardt, General Manager for Hendrick Motorsports. Duchardt made his way to the media center to clarify Johnson’s earlier comments.

 

“That is simply that the relationship from a data standpoint was a two-way relationship.  The received our information, we received their information.  That is the way it had worked from the time I have been at Hendrick Motorsports.  That is basically it.  We received information from Stewart-Haas when we worked with them. Obviously, when they made their announcement to Ford that changed things.  But the bottom line is that as partners we exchanged data between each other,” stated Duchardt.

 

That relationship was before the announcement of Stewart-Haas earlier this year.

 

“I have told Jimmie what I was going to come and explain here, but yeah for sure this year they haven’t gotten our and we haven’t gotten theirs.  That got shut off I think before Daytona actually.  That has been straightforward between Stewart-Haas and us and Zippy (Greg Zipadelli) and I worked through that.  That was, from my standpoint, very straightforward.”

 

Throughout this year, Hendrick Motorsports has built parts for Stewart-Haas to their specifications.

 

When asked about confidential information, Duchardt stated, “From a technical relationship standpoint the information got cut off, but we build their engines, we build their chassis’ to their specifications.  They get certain chassis components from us that we have supplied over the years rear-end housing, lower control arms, truck arms things like that. They continue to receive those to their specifications from our shop.”

 

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