Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) has had a very disappointing start to the 2013 season. Their drivers Ryan Newman, Tony Stewart, and Danica Patrick all sit 17th, 21st, and 28th in points respectfully. With no wins so far, it has left many asking what is going on?
The SHR and Hendrick Motorsports organizations work together as Hendrick provides them with chassis, engines, and technical support. With how those teams have excelled with the new car, one would assume that SHR would as well.
“We are in an organization that we have a lot of guys running very well up towards the front of the points and we are not there. We do have conversations every week and sit downs. Sometimes even when your cars are good you don’t always put all the pieces together. That has been out thing this year. We’ve got a great cars, great crew chief, great pit crew and I think I do a pretty good job; but getting them all to come together in synch when it counts most. We did it at Darlington we had a third-place finish. We did a pretty good job at Martinsville, had a good finish. The rest of the races those things haven’t come together. We haven’t been able to get the results. So, some of those things could be the same with Stewart-Haas,” said Hendrick driver Jeff Gordon Thursday.
Driver Danica Patrick echoed Gordon’s observations on what might be holding SHR back this year.
“I think that as an organization I feel like half of the battle is kind of figuring out what it is, and I think we have a grasp, an idea, of what that is, what those things are. Executing is the next challenge. I think it’s going to take some time. I don’t know how long it will take to have those issues fixed ultimately, but I feel like we have an idea of where we need to go,” said Patrick Thursday.
“I think everybody rolls into a year, you think you’ve done everything you can to prepare best as possible. You don’t know till you get going, which is why at the beginning of the year when people ask about what I should be expecting out there, what to expect, I said, Let’s see how the first five races go, see where we shake out. I think that’s the same every year. You just need to see where you end up on all the different tracks, what you need to work out. I do, I think that we were surprised. But all of us understand that we have to work hard to fix it,” she continued.
Ryan Newman pointed out that while the team does have a Hendrick affililation, they are not the same organizations.
“Simply said, it’s just ties with Hendrick, that doesn’t mean that we have their spring inventory, it doesn’t mean that we’re building the same shocks, it doesn’t mean that we’re setting the same air pressures. Just because we have the inventory of knowledge doesn’t mean we have the inventory of performance. And then I think conversely if you look at 2011 when Tony won five out of the 10 Chase races, I think if you’re a hendrick fan, you’re wondering why isn’t Rick Hendrick and these guys checking out ‑‑ Jimmie Johnson and Jeff and all these guys copying what the 14 is doing. I mean, it’s part of the cycles of racing. We all click at certain times,” he commented from the Charlotte Motor Speedway Thursday afternoon.
It’s been boiled down to a racing thing, which a team just gets off their game and needs to turn it around. We saw it with the Roush-Fenway Racing organization a few years ago and they have turned things around. How fast will SHR turn it around? It might not be for this weekend.
“I’m not going to lie. I didn’t feel very good after we ended the All-Star Race last weekend. I’m not necessarily optimistic right now about the race. But by no means do I let that take me out of the game, take my effort out. We were all fired up today. I think we had a relatively decent practice. We had lots of issues. Around that, I think we had better race speed. I think we’re learning more about what I need in a qualifying car. You know, let’s hope that helps us qualify better and let’s hope that helps us race better. That’s just what we do every single day and weekend, is work towards those things,” said Patrick about her weekend chances.
The NASCAR world will see if Patrick and her teammates will have a better feeling after the Coca-Cola 600 gets underway later today.