Opinion: Dream Team or Nightmare?


Stewart, Danica Patrick and newcomers Kevin Harvick (L) and Busch (R) will form one of the most interesting teams in recent NASCAR history. (Photo: Getty Images)


Maybe they should change the sign on the door to read Haas-Stewart Racing.

After Tuesday’s press conference to officially announce Kurt Busch as the team’s newest driver, it’s very apparent Gene Haas is much more than a silent partner in the company.

Haas, who gave Tony Stewart a 50 percent stake in his stable when the two created SHR in 2008, made no bones about the fact it was his decision to go after the mercurial Busch without first conferring with his injured partner.

“I didn't have really a chance to talk to Tony about it at all since he wasn't really talking to anybody,” Haas said of the decision to go make a formal offer to Busch after a chance meeting between the two at a GM meeting in Indianapolis. “So I kind of did this on my own, probably overstepped my authority a tich there.

“I'm not used to having too many authorities to work with. I've been pretty much on my own. I did realize that Tony might be a little bit upset about it. He was, he was a little upset.”

The bottom line is very clear - the man who owns Haas Automation and is worth more than several million dollars calls the shots at SHR and gets what he wants.

And with that "The Outlaw" became a member of SHR.

Haas sees in Busch qualities he can relate to and admires.

“I kind of like his attitude,” Haas said. “He's passionate about what he does. He likes to win. He's not afraid to get in people's faces. I think that kind of reflects my company a little bit.”

“The fact that he runs into his friends at 200 miles an hour once in a while, has a few tough words with that, they all do that, so I don't really have any problems with that either.”

Haas insists with time Stewart eventually became at peace with the move and despite the physical limitations of the organization’s current headquarters to house another entry, the process of fielding four cars next season is underway.

Stewart, Danica Patrick and newcomers Kevin Harvick and Busch will form one of the most interesting teams in recent NASCAR history.

Every driver in this new stable has had an issue with another at one point in his or her careers. All four are among the most emotional, passionate and sometimes outspoken in the garage area. Stewart, Harvick and Busch are a custom to being the top dog on their teams.

Somehow all must now find a way to work together to create a successful organization.

Busch goes from being the lone wolf at the upstart Furniture Row Racing team to just one of a quartet at SHR. He’s flourished this season with the single car operation and has done a magnificent job both behind the wheel as well as outside the race car.

How will Busch handle being thrown into the new SHR pressure cooker, where the spotlight and scrutiny will be white hot compared to the more under the radar like environment at FRR?

Harvick can be as combustible as they come when things aren’t going well and isn’t shy about letting his frustrations be known. There will no doubt be a getting to know you period working with new crew chief Rodney Childers and the No. 4 crew that will require patience, something that is in short supply with a fiery driver like Harvick.

Stewart will be on a mission to prove to the world he’s back at more than 100 percent after his sprint car crash injury and will be in a no-nonsense mood once he returns to work. And Patrick enters 2014 in what many believe is a do or die year to prove her worth as a NASCAR driver.

Toss in the management power play that came to light on Tuesday and SHR could be a veritable powder keg.

“We built a rubber room upstairs. That's the first thing we did,” said Director of Competition Greg Zipadelli, the man charged with somehow making this all come together.

Personalities aside, Zipadelli has his work more than cut out for him. Growing any operation from three to four cars is a monumental effort, let alone one still suffering through the growing pains of adding full-time entry number three for Patrick to the stable this year.

“I mean, anytime you expand, there's difficulties,” said an optimistic Zipadelli. “We expanded last year. We kind of sat back and looked at some of the things that we went through last year, how we can prevent some of them.”

Finding top notch people and building the kind of infrastructure and chemistry across all four teams is just another challenge awaiting Zipadelli.

Watching all this unfold will be fascinating. If NASCAR were smart, it would commission a “Hard Knocks” version television show for a behind the scenes look at how it all transpires.

On paper it’s a stellar lineup. But paper also has a way of catching fire.

The opinions expressed here are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the positions of the Motor Racing Network.

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