Since the Daytona 500, where Stewart-Haas Racing driver Danica Patrick held the pole, SHR has been mediocre at best. As a team, SHR has led 50 laps and gathered one top 5 finish. The team gets chassis and engines from Hendrick Motorsports so why haven’t they been performing and are things finally starting to look up?Jan 23, 2012; Concord, NC, USA; NASCAR The Sprint Cup Series team of Stewart Haas Racing which includes from left to right competition director Matt Borland crew chief Tony Gibson driver Ryan Newman crew chief Steve Addington driver Tony Stewart crew chief Greg Zipadelli and driver Danica Patrick pose for pictures during the 2012 Sprint media tour at the Embassy Suits Hotel in Concord, North Carolina. Mandatory Credit: Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports
This weekend’s Coke 600 can be put in the books as the turnaround point for Stewart-Hass Racing and its three teams. All three teams started off the weekend with great racecars and had very little handling issues throughout the 600 miles of the race. Tony Stewart garnished his best finish this season of 7th, one spot behind teammate Ryan Newman. Danica Patrick ended the day 29th after a late race crash took her out of the top-20.
Newman has by far been the best performer out of the three cars and he has only one top-5 finish and 3 DNFs. His results thus far are sporadic but he has come away with 6 top-10 finishes leaving him 16th in point’s standings.
Stewart has been the biggest struggle this season in the organization. With only 2 top-10 finishes and no finish higher than 7th. As the 2011 Sprint Cup Series Champion, Stewart knows how to perform and how to win races but something just hasn’t clicked this season.
Rookie Driver Danica Patrick took the NASCAR world by storm at Daytona by winning the pole but has had only one top-15 finish since. As a Rookie, her season hasn’t been awful but it hasn’t been spectacular either. She sits 30th in points after her wreck on Sunday dropped her two spots.
As an organization, it seems like SHR hasn’t quite figured out the Gen-6 car quite as fast as the other big organizations. Also, adding a third full-time team mixed up a lot of the personnel. Moving Newman’s race team over to crew for Patrick left them looking for a new pit crew for the No.39.
Greg Zipadelli, Competition Director for SHR, says that no changes will be made within the organization. He said that they struggled getting cars to the tracks the first few weeks of the season and that his people are working countless hours at the shop to produce the best racecars possible.
Unity is something that has been lacking in the organization this season after the change-ups within the teams. The teams are building stronger bonds and stronger connections and it’s starting to show we get deeper in the season.
Zipadelli says that they, as an organization, haven’t been giving their drivers the equipment they need to go out there and run like they know how to do and that they are working each and every week to make their racing product better.
No changes will be made within the organization but keep an eye on the three Stewart-Haas teams. As the summer months kick in, the schedule starts to return to tracks for a second time and that’s when Tony Stewart will kick it up a notch.
Stewart-Haas Racing is gaining ground and won’t be the underdogs for long. Look for one of their three drivers to be in Victory Lane this summer and multiple times before the end of the season. Also, I wouldn’t count Stewart or Newman out of the Chase just yet either.
Watch the interview with Competition Director Greg Zipadelli here (via SPEED.com)