Stewart-Haas Racing hasn’t gotten off to the start they or anyone expected for 2019. After winning 12 races in 2018 it was expected SHR would continue their strong performances into 2019. That hasn’t happened, instead, Team Penske is leading the way for Ford this season displacing the once dominant SHR.
To add more pressure to the team there is a decent probability SHR will be negotiating new contracts for three of their four cars heading into the 2020 season. Adam Stern from SBJ let every know Thursday that two possibly three SHR cars could be up for grabs next season.
#14 – Clint Bowyer (Contract Up)
Clint Bowyer joined SHR in 2017 and since then he has done exactly what Clint Bowyer does. Many people believed this would be the career revival he desperately needed after the demise of Michael Waltrip Racing and his career purgatory season at HScott Motorsports. You can argue it’s just a continuation of what his career has been. Bowyer has 10 wins over a 15 full-time seasons. Since joining SHR he has recorded 2 wins, 20 Top-5’s, and 37 Top-10’s. Not bad but he put up better numbers at MWR.
SHR shouldn’t be in a rush to re-sign Bowyer. Exploring options and seeing if there is a younger driver would be a smart move for the future of SHR. Bowyer just turned 40 and Harvick is 43, looking for a long term replacement is a terrible idea. Clint has a phenomenal personality but that personality hasn’t attracted a ton of sponsors.
#41 – Daniel Suarez (Contract Up)
Daniel Suarez was a late addition to the SHR lineup for 2019. However, he apparently only signed a 1-year deal with SHR. So far in 2019 Suarez hasn’t had the same results as Bowyer or Harvick but he’s only 14 races into his career with SHR.
Re-signing Suarez should be a priority for the team as they look to the future. The hard part comes when we talk about sponsorship. Longtime sponsor Arris was recently acquired, how that affects the motorsports sponsorship hasn’t been determined. Suarez’s best bargaining chip next to talent is the fat check he brings. If that’s gone he’s likely gone from SHR’s bastard child car. (Gene created it for Kurt without telling Tony).
#10 Aric Almirola (Smithfield Contact Up)
Aric Almirola might have the most interesting situation amongst the three. The veteran had a career season in 2018 with SHR. He recorded a win, career highs in Top-5’s and Top-10’s and put himself in contention to win on a number of occasions. His inability to seal the deal is a little concerning however you could chalk that up to inexperience in that position.
Almirola is at SHR because of the sponsorship he brings. Smithfield’s contract is up at the end of the season. They’re one of the few sponsors left in the sport who sponsors a car the entire season/nearly the entire season. Smithfield is pumping around $20-25M a season into this program, they want to see ROI and so far you could say they have. Is that enough to keep them with the #10?
SHR should try to keep Almirola. Not only for the sponsorship dollars but also for some continuity within the organization.
It’ll be interesting to see how all of this plays out. SHR could in theory have a completely different driver lineup heading into 2020. One thing that is for certain, Christopher Bell will not be in one of their cars.
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