Sprint Cup Preview 2013: Stewart-Haas Goes from Duo to Trio in Quest for Another Title
Making the move from being just a drive to being both an owner and a driver is one that normally takes a lot of time, and a lot of commitment. When Tony Stewart elected to opt out at Joe Gibbs Racing at the end of 2008 to take majority purchase in the Haas' team, forming Stewart-Haas Racing beginning in 2009, no one knew what to expect.
But after three short years, Stewart put Gene Haas on top of the mountain, winning the 2011 Sprint Cup title.
Last season, despite not winning that championship, Stewart and the entire organization did see success, but also saw some drama, as in if the other long-tenured teammate would resign. That drama ended with a new contract, and now has also added a rookie contender.
Heading into 2013, Stewart-Haas Racing is ready for a new year, and another shot at the championship. Here's a look at their trio ready to hit the track come Daytona:
Tony Stewart: No. 14 Mobil 1/Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet SS
There is no question that the 2011 Chase for Smoke was frankly the greatest 10-race stretch of any driver in Chase history. To follow up such a season would be impossible to do, but Stewart was ready to try.
In the end, his season was lack-luster in the results of the Chase, but statistically it was a strong year. Stewart ended the season with three victories, 12 top-fives and 16 top-10's, normal statistics for a three-time champion.
Stewart did lose Office Depot as a sponsor, the first company to sign on with SHR when the team formed, but has since brought on long-time backer Bass Pro Shops to make up for the gap.
It looks as though Smoke is ready to light up 2013, both as an owner and a driver.
Ryan Newman: No. 39 Haas Automation/Quicken Loans/Outback Steakhouse Chevrolet SS
The biggest question from the 2012 season for SHR would be whether they would be able to resign the teammate that came on board when the organization formed. Sure enough, Newman decided to come back to the No. 39 team, although only with a one-year contract.
So, it is possible he could be racing for his job, as it's already looking as though Kevin Harvick will be coming on board in 2014 as either a fourth driver, or even taking over this car. So, Newman is possibly driving for a job.
Last season, Newman only found victory lane once, coming in the spring at Martinsville, and added six top-fives and 14 top-10's to close out the season. Sadly, he missed out on making the Chase, which is the second time in three years that such an incident happened.
Danica Patrick: No. 10 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet SS
The newest shoe to take to a full-time Sprint Cup schedule is one that has only seen one full year in NASCAR. But, she came with a lot of backing, a lot of hype, and despite a lot of fans, and drivers alike, having critical theories as to how and why she's in the sport, she's made the leap to the big time.
Now, "Danicamania" makes it debut full-time in the Sprint Cup Series, with a fan backing that is not quite on the level of Dale Earnhardt Jr, but is along those lines. Last year she ran 10 races for Stewart-Haas, debuting her GoDaddy.com machine in the Daytona 500.
Now, Patrick is going for Rookie of the Year honors, and as long as she is able to keep her emotions in check and not create controversy, there is a chance that could be something she could win. But, if she does get under the skin of other drivers, it's going to give her more exposure, and not in a good way.