Stewart-Haas Switching to Ford in 2017
By: MRN Staff on February 24, 2016 | 9:02 A.M. EST
Ford’s multiyear agreement with Stewart-Haas Racing will add four entries to strengthen the company’s lineup in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
Stewart-Haas Racing will move to Ford next season, adding four teams to the Ford Performance stable to run Fusions with Roush Yates Engines.
SHR has fielded Chevrolets since co-owners Tony Stewart and Gene Haas came together in 2009, winning the 2011 championship with Stewart and Kevin Harvick in 2014. Before that, Haas ran General Motors products - Chevrolets and Pontiacs - under the Haas CNC Racing banner. Stewart won the 2002 championship driving a Pontiac and again in 2005 in a Chevrolet, both with Joe Gibbs Racing.
"I want to recognize our relationship and successes with Chevrolet," Stewart said. "They’ve been an awesome partner and we’ve done a lot of special things together, including two championships and a ton of races. We hope to do that again this year.
"This is a constantly evolving sport. We try to make decisions that best position us for the future. We consider our partners, our drivers and our employees when we think of these strategies. This future relationship with Ford provides us with great stability for SHR and an opportunity to compete at a very top level in the sport."
With the change in manufacturer will come a lot of growth.
"We’re trying to do everything we can to be as self-sufficient as we can going into 2017," Stewart said. "We’re gonna be adding a lot of personnel and doing our own chassis program. It’s a great opportunity to kind of get out of the shadows and, to some degree, get off the coattails ... get out on our own. Everybody at SHR is proud to finally be in a position to branch out in this way."
Stewart said talks of the potential move to Ford started a little over six months ago.
"The more we talked to Ford, the more we realized their passion and desire to win races and championships is very much in line with how we approach it at Stewart-Haas Racing," Stewart said. "There wasn’t anything in this deal that was a disappointment from the Chevy side. We weren’t disappointed with what we were doing. But when we got into conversations with Ford, it seemed like a partnership that made a lot of sense. The longer those conversations went, the more excited both sides were about making this a reality."
Stewart-Haas Racing has been getting engines, chassis and technical support through an alliance with Hendrick Motorsports. SHR reached out to HMS owner Rick Hendrick at the start of the year to let him know that they were looking to make the move.
"We weren’t 100 percent decided yet, but we were 99.9 percent there," Stewart said. "We wanted to be fair to Rick. He's been a great partner. I wouldn’t have had this opportunity to partner up with Gene if it wasn’t for Rick, so we have a great deal of respect for him. That was important to us, to make sure we reached out to him and let him know about this before he heard it from anyone else."
SHR remains committed to Chevrolet and trying to give them another championship in their last year together.
"Our partnership with Ford doesn’t start until next year. This year, we’re still a Chevy team. We’re still committed to doing everything we can to win races and a championship for them," Stewart said. "That’s our commitment. We still respect our partnership with Chevy."
Updated: 1 p.m. (ET).