In case you missed it, Ford-Performance started off Wednesday with a bang by announcing two time championship winning team, Stewart-Haas Racing, will be switching to Ford beginning in 2017. Owners Tony Stewart and Gene Haas have confirmed that 2016 will be the final season of the partnership with Chevrolet, ending the now 13-year partnership (Haas Racing used Chevy starting in 2004).
While no direct reason was given, owner Tony Stewart stated that, "This new partnership with Ford allows us to strengthen our position in the sport and ensure the long-term stability and success for everyone who is a part of Stewart-Haas Racing." Gene Haas hinted that the switch is driven by innovation which leads to success in the long run. "Motorsports is an extremely challenging environment where in order to maintain success you have to constantly innovate. It's true in NASCAR and it's true in business," said Haas.
Who would have thought we would have a blog regarding a change in 2017 this early in the season? With this breaking news I figured the only thing to do was look at the good and bad side of Stewart-Haas switching to Ford Performance. Enough talking, let's get to it!
Many will question why one of NASCAR's top Chevy racing teams would leave such an established brand, but with the success of competing teams like Penske, the answer may be easy. Looking at what Roger Penske and his Ford team have done over the last few years is amazing. Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano have combined to win 20 races since making the switch to Ford in 2013. Ford has not won a championship since the 2004 season with Kurt Busch, but there is no doubt Penske is on the virge of taking home a title with youngster Joey Logano. With this kind of success, Stewart-Haas knows that Ford can still provide the power needed to compete week in and week out.
If your Stewart-Haas you see a lot of positives with Ford-Performance. Penske is having major success, the Wood Brothers are getting back on track, and Roush-Fenway is working week by week to get back to past performance. Originally I was concerned when I heard the news of the switch, but looking at the grand scheme of things, Stewart-Haas Racing has the equipment and engineering to make the switch a successful one. With talented drivers such as Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch, and eventual driver Clint Bowyer, there is no reason this team can't have success with the blue oval.
Why... that was all I could ask myself after news broke of the switch. Why on earth would Tony Stewart and Gene Haas abandon the brand that made them championship competitors? Why would a change even be considered when looking at the success of 2014 champion Kevin Harvick? I can't get over the fact that Stewart-Haas has had nothing but success with Chevy, so why leave now?
Usually when a team switches brands it is due to lack of performance, but this team is on the opposite end of that spectrum. Kevin Harvick was one of the most consistent drivers on the circuit last season, with 3 wins, a series high 23 top-5's, and 28 top-10's (tied for season high with Joey Logano). Kurt Busch also made the Chase with his #41 team, so the change still makes no sense from a competition stand point. Just look at the resume Chevy has built. They have won the last 15 manufacturers' championships and been a part of 9 of the last 11 drivers' championships. Chevy has been the premier brand in the Cup Series for the last decade, so why would you want to leave such a successful partnership? In addition, the switching of brands also means the partnership with Hendrick Motorsports is over, leaving them with no extra help unless another alliance is made. Ford brings new opportunities to Stewart-Haas, but just remember there is nothing fancier than a bow tie in NASCAR.
Overall, I think Stewart-Haas will have success with Ford, but the switch just doesn't make sense when your on the outside looking in. Chevy has established itself as the top brand in NASCAR for the last decade, so the switch to Ford is a bit confusing. I look forward to seeing what Stewart and his team can accomplish with a new manufacturer, but hey we still have another 40 weeks to talk about this season!
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(PICS NOT MINE, USED FROM VARIOUS SITES) (QUOTES FROM JAYSKI.COM)