Stewart-Haas Racing will be switching manufacturers after the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup series season it was announced Wednesday. Ford Performance said in an emailed press release that the multiyear agreement with SHR will start with Daytona Speedweeks in February 2017 and the four-car Stewart-Haas Racing team will race the Ford Fusion with Ford engines prepared by Roush Yates Engines.
“We are thrilled to be able to add a championship-level team like Stewart-Haas Racing to our Ford NASCAR program,” said Raj Nair, executive vice president and Chief Technical Officer, Ford Motor Company. “Tony Stewart and Gene Haas have the same passion for winning that we do, and bring a strong stable of drivers and personnel that fit into what we’re trying to do in the sport.”
“We have said very clearly that we are not in NASCAR just to race, but to win races and championships,” said Dave Pericak, global director, Ford Performance. “We believe the addition of Stewart-Haas Racing in 2017 will give our program a major boost in terms of being in contention for both drivers’ and manufacturers’ championships every year.
“We believe that our NASCAR engineering experience and tools match up very well with the expertise and personnel that Stewart-Haas Racing has in house right now, and that we will both benefit from this partnership going forward.”
Stewart-Haas currently fields Chevrolets for Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick, Danica Patrick and Kurt Busch. Stewart, Harvick and Busch have won Sprint Cup titles and Patrick was a winner in the Indycar Series before transitioning to NASCAR. Stewart-Haas Racing has a record of 30 points-paying wins, 26 poles and two titles since its inception in 2009.
Stewart will retire as a NASCAR driver following the 2016 season. Stewart and Haas will remain co-owners of Stewart-Haas Racing with Clint Bowyer replacing Stewart in the No. 14 car. The team was founded in 2003 by Gene Haas as Haas CNC Racing. Stewart became a co-owner of the team in 2009. The team has campaigned only Chevrolets since its inception.
Ford currently supports 11 teams in the Sprint Cup series. Chevy has 19 teams, Toyota seven. The team will continue to field Chevrolets for the entire 2016 season. SHR recently expanded operations to Formula 1 and will make its on-track debut next month. The team has been in the spotlight this week after Stewart was injured in an all-terrain vehicle accident on January 31 in California. He will miss an unspecified number of races as he recovers from a burst fracture of the L1 vertebra. Drivers Ty Dillon and Brian Vickers will be subbing for Stewart in the near future.
Wednesday the team released a statement shortly after the news broke:
“Stewart-Haas Racing has been a top-tier team in our sport for many years, and we wish them well in their future endeavor with Ford Performance. Our sport is rooted in healthy competition and NASCAR is fortunate to have three strong auto manufacturer partners all committed to the common goals of winning and growing the sport. We know that SHR and Chevrolet will work together as hard as ever this season to win races and pursue their third Sprint Cup Championship together.”