Among racing teams possibly making headlines for Silly Season is Stewart-Haas Racing. Two of their four drivers are up contract talks, including one notable driver who has yet to make the same kind of splash on the track that she has off the track.
These days, Danica Patrick gets more camera time visiting boyfriend Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in victory lane than she does driving the 10 car. Stewart-Haas Racing has a particularly interesting conundrum. Patrick has had a few good moments, but she just seems unable to break past the twenties in terms of ranking.
While that’s clearly not terrible, the crux of the debate is what another driver might do if given the opportunity to use the same equipment. Would they fare any better? Maybe. Maybe not. After five years, it may be time for Stewart-Haas Racing to find out.
Lest you consider this decision a no-brainer, consider Danica Patrick’s star power. Like it or not fans, she may well be one of the most famous drivers, transcending the world of NASCAR. She’s a woman, making her unique in the field. Many find her attractive, making Ms. Patrick tailor-made for appearances on TV and in commercials. Replacing her would come at a time where another well-known presence gets set to retire. There are plenty of drivers far more prolific than Patrick or Dale Earnhardt Jr., but who becomes the new face of the sport? Thank that through and the decision is not as easy as it seems.
One would think re-signing Kurt Busch to be a much less challenging decisions. The 2004 Cup champion has earned five victories since coming over to SHR, and by all indications, he is co-existing well with his stablemates. A winner of 29 Cup races, Busch has been steady, if unspectacular while at Stewart-Haas Racing.
Overall, things are solid at SHR. Kevin Harvick continues to race at a high level, and while it is premature to say Clint Bowyer is enjoying a resurgence in his maiden voyage with his new team, his team’s performance has shown promise.
Gene Haas has indicated there will be no contraction. He, Tony Stewart and company have some interesting choices to pick from in terms of filling seats that may open. What Stewart-Haas Racing will do here will be interesting. One would think at least one will open up for 2018.