New Faces, New Challenges: Stewart-Haas Racing’s Journey in 2024 NASCAR Season

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All eyes on Las Vegas for further signs of an SHR rebound

Last season, the four-car Ford team of Ford Performance Racing didn’t clinch any wins, and experienced the departure of two seasoned drivers – Kevin Harvick and Aric Almirola – who retired from full-time competition during the offseason.

To revamp its lineup, Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) brought in two new faces, Noah Gragson and Josh Berry, alongside the return of Chase Briscoe and Ryan Preece to drive the Nos. 14 and 41 teams, respectively.

The opening races of the 2024 season, taking place at the unpredictable drafting tracks of Daytona and Atlanta, set the stage for Sunday’s race at Las Vegas and the subsequent event at Phoenix, offering an early insight into the teams’ performance for the season ahead.

The 36-race schedule primarily features intermediate tracks like Las Vegas and circuits utilizing the short-track/road course aero package, debuting at Phoenix.

All eyes on Las Vegas for further signs of an SHR rebound

“This Vegas race will truly test our standing,” remarked Gragson, a Las Vegas native steering SHR’s No. 10 Ford. “The majority of the schedule includes mile-and-a-half tracks and short tracks, with Vegas and Phoenix being crucial.”

Since Tony Stewart’s co-ownership in 2009, SHR has clinched two Cup Series titles (2011 and 2014) and amassed 69 wins. Despite this, recent years have seen struggles, with only Harvick making it to the playoffs last season while the other three teammates finished outside the top 20 in the series standings.

With fresh talent on board and the introduction of Ford’s “Dark Horse” Mustang body, the upcoming races could signal a turnaround for SHR.

“Vegas will be the litmus test to gauge our performance for the next few months and identify areas for improvement,” expressed Briscoe.

The groundwork for SHR’s resurgence began immediately after the conclusion of the 2023 season.

“We started preparations for Vegas as early as November, running simulations to hit the ground running,” Briscoe revealed. “From simulations and data, the Ford Mustang Dark Horse body promises significant improvements over last year.”

While simulation work is a vital aspect of preparation, its translation to actual track performance remains uncertain.

Despite setbacks in the early races, signs indicate that the Ford body could be a game-changer this season. Ford drivers Joey Logano and Todd Gilliland have led the most laps, with Fords securing the first two poles.

For SHR, both Gragson and Briscoe secured top-10 finishes at Daytona. However, all four teams displayed speed but were marred by on-track incidents. Moreover, Gragson and Preece faced penalties due to unapproved roof deflectors at Atlanta.

A strong showing on the West Coast would provide valuable insight into SHR’s trajectory for the season.

“The Vegas race outcome will heavily rely on the manufacturer’s offseason endeavors and how well teams implemented the new body,” Briscoe emphasized. “I’m optimistic about what we have, but you never truly know until you hit the track.”


By Annie Linardos

I'm a journalist student and completed my masters in Journalism and Mass Communication. With a strong track record as an intern at Mathrubhumi News and The New Indian Express as a reporter and content writer, I'm creative, motivated, and have a keen eye for the truth and attempting to use the expertise and talents to contribute to the emerging field of journalism. I have also been working as a freelance writer and have the capability of producing interesting and bold articles.

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