Team Preview: Stewart-Haas Racing

Tony Stewart

Bass Pro Shops will sponsor Tony Stewart for 18 races this season. (Photo: Jeff Wackerlin)

MotorRacingNetwork.com counts down to the start of the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup season, and the running of the Sprint Unlimited at Daytona International Speedway, with a series of team previews.  Next up is a look at Stewart-Haas Racing.

Stewart-Haas Racing has enjoyed lots of success in a little amount of time, winning the 2011 title with Tony Stewart and placing at least one driver in the Chase each of the four years since Stewart joined the team as co-owner.

Ryan Newman, Tony Stewart and Danica PatrickNow Stewart-Haas, which has recorded 17 wins with Stewart and Ryan Newman, looks to add to its accomplishments in 2013 with a new racecar (the Gen-6 Chevrolet SS) and a new full-time teammate in Danica Patrick.

“From the ownership side, looking out my window, it's been very busy downstairs," Stewart said. "These guys have done a great job through the winter of catching up. It's taken a little time to get some of the pieces and parts, but our guys have done a good job of getting ready. I'm proud of the effort they've put forth to get everything ready for Daytona. If these (new) cars race as well as they drive, it's going to be an awesome year.”

Stewart, who's made the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup in each of his four seasons with SHR, finished ninth in the 2012 standings in his first year with crew chief Steve Addington.

"It's wiping the slate clean to go out and try to figure this new car out," Addington said. "We made a few changes on the team. We have a new engineer and shock specialist, and a couple mechanics ... just getting a team to work together. Mainly, it was moving some guys around to give us support at the shop and be more competitive.

“We're looking forward to getting on top of this new car before other teams do, and we're excited about it."

Danica PatrickAfter running 58 Nationwide Series races over the past three seasons and 10 Cup starts in 2012, Patrick will make the transition to NASCAR's top series full-time and run for Rookie of the Year honors.

"It's been a process and I'm grateful for a sponsor like Go Daddy that's willing to take the time with me, be patient and stick with me," Patrick said. "With two years part-time in Nationwide and then one year full-time over there, with some Cup races,it's been a nice transition."

Patrick will be paired with crew chief Tony Gibson, who joined the No. 10 Go Daddy team for their final races of 2012 at Texas Motor Speedway and Phoenix International Raceway. In her last start at Phoenix, Patrick posted her best career Cup finish of 17th.

“For us, the sky's the limit," Gibson said. "We were fortunate to get a couple races together at the end of (last) year. They went extremely well and we were pumped up when we left those places. We want to gel as a team and it's exciting to have a driver who's pumped up each day to get in the car. The feedback she's giving us is tremendous and it's a lot of fun to experience that again."

With Gibson going to Patrick's team, that left the door open for Matt Borland to move from vice president of competition to crew chief and be reunited with Newman. Borland, who was the best man at Newman's wedding, guided him to 12 wins at Penske Racing from 2002 to 2005 and then a third-place finish in last year's season finale while transitioning to the No. 39 team.

“I'm looking forward to getting rolling again," Borland said. "We've got a whole new group of guys on that team; looking forward to getting better and better, and when we get to the racetrack winning poles, leading laps and winning races. Those are our goals."

Ryan NewmanNewman, who won the 2012 spring race at Martinsville Speedway, finished 14th in the final standings and has now missed the Chase in two of his four seasons at SHR.

"We started off strong last year and it fell apart," Newman said. "We won early, which is nice. But even with that win, which would have gotten us into the Chase in 2011, it didn’t get us into the Chase for 2012. You can’t just sit there and feel like you’re happy because you have speed. It takes teamwork and a lot of other things to be successful, and have a shot at the championship."

Stewart-Haas was able to fill some sponsorship holes after Office Depot and the U.S. Army left at the end of last season. Bass Pro Shops will sponsor Stewart in 18 races with Quicken Loans increasing its support of Newman from 9 races to 18. Mobil 1 will back Stewart in 11 events. WIX Filters, Outback Steakhouse, Aspen Dental and Code 3 Associates will combine for 10 races on Newman's car. Co-owner Gene Haas' company could be used as a safety net if other sponsorship does not materialize.

“We still have nine races on my car open for primary spots," Stewart said. "There are eight or nine on Ryan's car, and there's an opportunity for three with Danica. We would love to sell that inventory, obviously. That would make it easier on us. But racers are very resourceful and they always have been. You take what you have and make the most with it. We've been able to do that the first four years and we'll keep doing so.”

Mobil 1Mobil 1, which joined SHR as a sponsor in 2011, recently extended its contract with NASCAR through 2017 to remain as the Official Motor Oil of NASCAR.

"I've always said they are not only a partner that helps us keep these cars on the racetrack financially, they're as active in the race team as our own crew guys are," Stewart said of Mobil 1. "What they're doing with lubricants and oils is just as important to our program as anything else. It’s neat having a partner and a sponsor that's active in its role with the race team."

Photos: Jeff Wackerlin

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