ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Will the real Stewart-Haas Racing please stand up?

Updated on March 8, 2015
Kevin Harvick won yet another race for SHR in Las Vegas
Kevin Harvick won yet another race for SHR in Las Vegas | Source

Sunday's dominant performance by Kevin Harvick was the cap on an amazing start to 2015 for the defending Sprint Cup champion. After consecutive second place finishes, Harvick took control of the Kobalt 400 in Las Vegas and never let go. It's the kind of result that Harvick expected when he signed on to drive for Stewart-Haas Racing. He believed that Hendrick cars plus co-owner Tony Stewart's drive would prove to be a winning combination. And while that's been true for Kevin, the results of his teammates are eerily similar to that of his last three years at Richard Childress Racing. The contrast in performance has NASCAR observers asking themselves which is the real SHR?

For years, Kevin Harvick carried RCR in terms of on track results. From 2011 through 2013, Harvick accounted for 90% of the team's wins, 62% of its top five finishes and a whopping 73.7% of the team's laps led. Those results came in running only 33% of the team's races. Excluding Harvick, RCR had one win, 14 top five finishes, zero pole starts and only 331 laps led. It took a total of six drivers 228 Sprint Cup starts to achieve those results against 108 Cup starts for Harvick. With the Dillon boys coming, Harvick didn't want the burden of carrying an organization whose primary efforts went to someone else.

Yet in just over a year's time at SHR, Harvick has once again become the lone bright spot for his organization. He has six wins and 17 top five finishes in 39 races; the other SHR drivers combined have one win and nine top five finishes in 117 events. The laps led category is even worse as Harvick has accounted for nearly 87% of the team total. He has an average finish of 7th versus 25th for the rest of the team. The numbers are staggering and they are even worse when you consider that the other drivers (Tony Stewart and Kurt Busch) have a combined four Sprint Cup trophies.

Discount Smoke DVDs from

Stewart has had a lot on his mind and on his plate the last two years
Stewart has had a lot on his mind and on his plate the last two years | Source

To be sure, there are plenty of reasons why things have not gone as intended at SHR of late. Stewart, the team's co-owner and three time Cup champion, has had his last two seasons derailed in August sprint car incidents. Kurt Busch has yet to drive a points-paying race in 2015 thanks to a suspension from NASCAR. And the team's other driver, Danica Patrick, has yet to live up to the potential Stewart saw in her three years ago.

Yet despite all of those distractions, any casual observer would have expected more than “Kevin Harvick and Those Other People” at SHR. The team has full sponsorship across the board, including Haas Automation on the hood of Busch's car. The #41 team has the full support of co-owner Gene Haas; after all, his name is on the hood. The cars come direct from Hendrick Motorsports, perhaps the greatest car and engine builder in NASCAR today. The team also participates in technical exchanges with Hendrick, gaining a wealth of knowledge from drivers with ten Sprint Cup championships.

Harvick's results are proof-positive that the situation can be a winning combination. He won the championship last season in dramatic fashion. His closest competitor at homestead was Ryan Newman- ironically, the driver he replaced at SHR and the driver that replaced him at RCR. Harvick took a team that struggled to win a single race in 2013 and carried them to five wins and 20 top ten finishes. And the win total could have been much higher as Harvick was denied several victories due to poor luck and pit crew performance. With the pit issues seemingly solved, 2015 has started off just as 2014 finished, with Kevin running at or near the front all race long.

Harvick won last year's championship and is on the path toward another
Harvick won last year's championship and is on the path toward another | Source
Harvick and Childers have made a formidable team since joining forces at SHR
Harvick and Childers have made a formidable team since joining forces at SHR | Source

Part of the credit for the difference has to go to Harvick's crew chief, Rodney Childers. He spent five seasons at Michael Waltrip Racing as one of the team's mainstays. He guided David Reutimann to his only two Sprint Cup victories and combined to win another race with Brian Vickers in 2013. Just as important in that 2013 performance was his ability to hold the #55 team together despite a patchwork driver schedule that saw three drivers split a part time schedule. When he joined SHR in 2014, he brought plenty of new ideas and outside thinking toward building the perfect team for Kevin Harvick. But Childers alone cannot explain the disparity between Harvick and his teammates.

Indeed, Harvick's numbers are above-average even when compared to his pseudo-teammates at Hendrick. When looking at those numbers, Harvick's six wins would still account for 30% of the overall count- and it took the Hendrick drivers 156 races to get their 14. Harvick would also have 27% of the top five finishes and a eye-popping 42% of the laps led. The fact that he beat all four drivers (and everyone else in NASCAR) to the Sprint Cup title a year ago is the final piece to the puzzle.

Harvick has persevered and indeed thrived in an environment that he seemingly wanted to leave behind. He knows how to maximize the resources of an organization- even if those around him fail to do likewise. After Sunday's win, he noted, “We're going to race every week like we have never won a race before. That's the kind of determination that you need when you are going to do this stuff.”

Watch the end of the Kobalt 400 on YouTube

Patrick is facing plenty of questions of her own as her contract nears its end
Patrick is facing plenty of questions of her own as her contract nears its end | Source

That statement is a compliment to the entire #4 team but it's also a shot across the bow of the rest of the organization. He's saying that despite winning last year's championship, the #4 team is still hungry. And what's unsaid but equally true is that the other teams at Stewart-Haas Racing are not coming to the table with the same hunger. They haven't reached the same level of desperation that the defending series champion has. And if they want to join him in victory lane, they're going to need to find that within themselves. This is particularly true for Stewart, the three time Cup champion.

Tony Stewart has long been known as a driver who does his best work when the temperatures go up and the tracks get slick. Yet despite a racetrack whose average temperature was over 100 degrees, Stewart was never a factor. His best position all day long was 13th (where he started). He ran in the 28-34 range all race long and finished a dismal five laps down in 33rd. This on the heels of a 30th place finish in Atlanta where he was six laps down.

Smoke still has plenty of time to put it all together. The season is only three races in and 24 races remain before NASCAR's playoffs begin. All he really needs is to win one race between now and then and the rest will take care of itself. He's simply too talented and his equipment is too good for Stewart to continue to be a Sprint Cup also-ran. And Stewart more than anyone else knows that once the Chase starts all bets are off.

Yet Harvick's win raises an important question. Who really is Stewart-Haas Racing? Is it a powerhouse with elite equipment and the defending champion in house? Or a one car operation that happens to put four cars on the starting grid? Is the organization capable of fielding multiple competitive cars or has the strain of supporting four cars stretched them beyond their talent level? And if that's the case, just how much longer will Stewart take it? Patience has never been Smoke's strong suit. As much as anyone else, he has to be waiting for the real Stewart-Haas Racing to stand up and be counted.

Need more NASCAR news and opinion?

Another Left Turn columns on hubpages at
Contact me via email at
Follow me on Twitter at

Now it's your turn!

What is the real Stewart-Haas Racing right now?

See results


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Maybe its as simple as they are over rated.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Get rid of Kurt Busch and you get rid of the drama, get rid of Danica and get a real driver and you may have a winning four car team.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)