Okay, let me see if I heard this correctly.
Stewart-Haas Racing switching to Ford next season?
Am I dreaming?
Is Hendrick dreaming?
For most owners and manufacturers of Chevrolet, it has to be a nightmare. Everyone within NASCAR is trying to make sense as to why after 30 wins, 26 poles and two NASCAR Sprint Cup Championships that SHR is making the switch to the “blue oval”. For SHR to make such a move in secrecy after six years with Chevrolet has got to be puzzling. The move even ends a successful alliance with Hendrick Motorsports, which helped Chevrolet clinch five NASCAR Sprint Cup Championships in the last seven years.
A switch to Ford allows them to align with Roush Yates Engines, technically called an alliance with l. Thoughout the SHR-Hendrick alliance, Ford has only recorded 47 wins out of 252 races all the way to the end of 2015. Ford’s best year was 2014, partly due to Team Penske’s career success of Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski during the regular season, including four wins in the Chase. The most lopsided statistic is that Ford hasn’t won the Manufacturer’s Championship since 2002.
Who was the most dominant manufacturer since then?
You guessed it: Chevrolet, 13 years in a row.
With the team that will be put together in 2017, here’s who has had experience with Ford:
Kurt Busch drove a Ford while with Roush Fenway Racing, winning 14 races through 2005, including his 2004 Sprint Cup Championship. The remaining team, including driver-in-waiting Clint Bowyer have never driven Fords in the Sprint Cup Series. Kevin Harvick has driven Chevrolet since moving up to Sprint Cup with Richard Childress Racing, and Danica Patrick the same with SHR.
Bowyer too has driven Chevrolet with RCR until moving over to Michael Waltrip Racing driving Toyota. Most likely the biggest fear is how the SHR drivers will be able to handle Ford, unless Kurt is able to give his knowledgeable advice on what to expect.
The shift to Ford will most likely total six teams and 15 drivers, assuming the non-charter teams are able to stick around in 2017. Moving from one of the most dominant manufacturers in NASCAR history in recent years has a lot of analysts scratching their heads. No doubt a lot of Stewart-Haas Racing fans are doing the same.
Credit all authors of images used in both article and as cover image : Bryan Law