By admin | May 22, 2013
By Richard Allen
So far, 2013 has been a season to forget for Stewart-Haas Racing. None of the organizations three drivers has won a race this season. For that matter, none even currently rank in the top-12 of the Sprint Cup standings and they have amassed only seven top-10 finishes in their collective 33 starts.
One popular theme that comes up when the topic of SHR’s weakness is discussed is the addition of a third full time effort in 2013 for Danica Patrick. And while that may be a contributing factorÂ toward the organization’s poor performance, a look at statistics reveals that their issues seem to go back to right aroundÂ this time last year before the former IndyCar driver formally joined the team.
Last season, Tony Stewart got off to a somewhat uncharacteristically hot start by winning two races within the first five events. However, his performance lagged significantly when the schedule reached the time in which he typically comes to life. From the time of the Coca-Cola 600 on Memorial Day weekend to the end of the season, the #14 Chevrolet recorded a remarkable eight finishes outside the top-20.
Stewart did win on the restrictor plate track in Daytona last July.
To this pointÂ in 2013, the leader of Stewart-Haas Racing has already scored six finishes outside the top-20 in only eleven starts. He has but one top-10 result and has led laps in only one race(Fontana) for 18 laps.
Obviously, if SHR’s top driver and co-owner of the team is that far off, it does not bode well for the rest of the company. But as the statistics above demonstrate, their weakness goes further back than the beginning of this season.
It isn’t just Stewart who has struggled over the past year for SHR. Ryan Newman has also suffered through some tough times since last year’s Coca-Cola 600.
After this time in 2012, Newman posted five finishes outside the top-20 on his way to a missed Chase for the Sprint Cup and an overall finish of 14th in the final standings. He did win one race last year, but that came early in the season at Martinsville.
This year, things have hardly gotten better for the Purdue University graduate. To date, he does lead SHR in most statistical categories as he has posted the organization’s only top-5 result along with five top-10s. However, inconsistency(four finishes outside the top-20) has placed him back in the 17th spot in the Sprint Cup standings.
And finally, there is the newest member of SHR, Danica Patrick. While she started off the season in a great way by capturing the pole position for the Daytona 500, the rest of the season has not been so successful. That excellent qualifying run in the sport’s premier event led to an 8th place finish, but since then, she has finished outside the top-20 nine times in her eleven starts.
It appears as if the problems at Stewart-Haas Racing go beyond the addition of a third team. While the groundwork was no doubt being laid for the additional team as far back as May of last year, it would be hard to believe that all of these poor results have only one source.
Could it be that Tony Stewart, with all of his endeavors, finally has reached a point in which he has too many irons in the fire? Has the company fallen behind from an engineering standpoint? Or, could the root of the problem be traced all the way back to the removal of crew chief Darian Grubb after Stewart’s remarkable championship run of 2011?
Whatever the cause, or causes, SHR appears to be well off their game so far in 2013.
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