Long: Stewart-Haas’ departure leaves many questions for Chevrolet, its teams


Stewart-Haas Racing’s announcement Wednesday that it will move to Ford after this season gives Chevrolet and its teams a year to prepare for the change, although that might not be enough time to handle all of the questions facing each.

The move weakens Chevrolet — Stewart-Haas Racing has won two of the last five Sprint Cup titles — and leaves a vacuum in the power structure, while creating questions about the engine programs two Chevy teams have.

Stewart-Haas’ announcement comes days after Toyota showed the value in its teams working together in the Daytona 500. Denny Hamlin gave Toyota its first Daytona 500 win and Joe Gibbs Racing its first since 1993. Toyota went on to take the top three spots and four of the top five.

Toyota also has won the most recent Sprint Cup championship, along with the most recent Daytona 500, Southern 500, Brickyard 400 and Coca-Cola 600 — the sport’s most prestigious races.

Stewart-Haas Racing’s decision marks the second time in the last decade one of Chevrolet’s strongest teams left. Joe Gibbs Racing joined Toyota in 2008.

When Gibbs left, Stewart-Haas Racing eventually became one of Chevrolet’s top teams. The question is, “Which Chevrolet team does so this time behind Hendrick Motorsports?”

There’s Richard Childress Racing, a three-car Cup team that last captured a Sprint Cup championship in 1994 and last won a Cup race in 2013. RCR, though, does have young drivers Austin and Ty Dillon. There’s Chip Ganassi Racing, a two-car Cup team that never has won a series title and last won a race in 2013. It has Kyle Larson, who is looked upon as one of the sport’s future stars.

The only other multicar Cup team aligned with Chevrolet this season is HScott Motorsports, and it is expected to return to a one-car team operation next year with Clint Bowyer leaving to take Tony Stewart’s ride.

Other teams aligned with Chevrolet this season are single-car operations – JTG Daugherty, Tommy Baldwin Racing, Germain Racing and Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing. Those teams have combined for one Cup win and do not have a full-time driver under the age of 31. All four are aligned with Richard Childress Racing.

Another key question is if there is a way to combine the engine work by Hendrick Motorsports and ECR Engines. Hendrick will lose Stewart-Haas Racing’s four teams as a client after this season, and there doesn’t appear to be another team Hendrick can add among the Chevy contingent.

SHR’s departure leaves Hendrick supplying Cup engines for Chip Ganassi Racing and HScott Motorsports. Hendrick also supplies engines for JR Motorsports’ Xfinity and Truck teams, Athenian Motorsports’ Xfinity and Truck teams for John Wes Townley and Ganassi’s Xfinity team.

ECR Engines supplies all three of Richard Childress’ Cup teams, along with JTG Daugherty, Tommy Baldwin Racing, Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing and Germain Racing. ECR Engines supply engines for all of RCR’s Xfinity teams, along with RSS Racing, Kaulig Racing and GMS Racing. ECR Engines also supply GMS Racing’s Camping World Truck teams and NEMCO Motorsport’s Truck team, along with some IMSA teams.

It might be time for Chevrolet to broker a way to merge ECR Engines with Hendrick’s engine shop. Toyota has only one engine supplier (Toyota Racing Development) for its top Cup teams, and Ford has only one engine supplier (Roush Yates Engines) for its top Cup teams.

Of course, merging the two Chevy engine programs would be more complicated than simply calling for it.

If nothing else, Chevrolet likely needs to step in and play a greater role in organizing its teams and structure to be more competitive with Ford and Toyota teams beginning next season.

Stewart said the move to Ford was best for the organization in the long run. It’s similar to the view of Joe Gibbs Racing when making its move from Chevrolet to Toyota. When Gibbs moved, it went from being under the shadow of Hendrick – Chevrolet’s No. 1 team – to No. 1 with Toyota.

Stewart-Haas Racing has the potential to make such a move with Ford, although Team Penske holds that spot for now. Even if those teams are co-No. 1 teams, the move still holds much promise.

“The sport evolves so fast that there are aspects of it that you realize as time goes on if you’re going to truly put yourself in a position to be at the top of the field each week, there are things you have to do on your own,’’ Stewart said Wednesday.

“Everyone in upper management all agreed that this was the right thing for our company, and we were committed to being able to do this and do it in the right way. We put over six months of thought into it and after that we realized that we feel very comfortable with this decision to branch out and do what we’re doing now.”

Now, it’s up to Chevrolet and its teams to fill the gap of losing Stewart-Haas Racing and remain competitive.

Sonoma Xfinity starting lineup: Kyle Larson wins pole


SONOMA, Calif. — Kyle Larson will start on the pole for Saturday’s inaugural Xfinity Series race at Sonoma Raceway.

Larson won the pole with an average speed of 91.393 mph around the 1.99-mile road course. Justin Allgaier joins Larson on the front row after a lap of 90.562 mph. Sheldon Creed (90.429 mph) qualified third. Aric Almirola (90.375) will start fourth. AJ Allmendinger (90.274) will start fifth.

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Larson is one of seven Cup drivers entered. The others are Almirola (starting fourth), Allmendinger (fifth), Ty Gibbs (seventh), Ross Chastain (15th), Daniel Suarez (17th) and Ty Dillon (32nd).

The green flag is scheduled to wave at 8:20 p.m. ET Saturday on FS1.

Could Daytona International Speedway host NFL games?


The president of Daytona International Speedway says track officials plan to speak with the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars about hosting the team’s games if Jacksonville’s stadium is renovated.

The Jaguars will need a temporary home site if plans go forward to renovate the team’s stadium. Daytona International Speedway has been mentioned as a possible candidate. The Jaguars released details Wednesday of what the stadium will look like after the renovation project.

Provided the project is approved by the city of Jacksonville, it is believed the Jaguars would need to find another home site for a couple of seasons while work is being done to its stadium. Daytona International Speedway is among possible sites for the Jaguars to play. More than 100,000 people saw Ricky Stenhouse Jr. win this year’s Daytona 500.

“Daytona International Speedway is a world-renowned sports and entertainment venue and hosts a full schedule of events each year,” said Frank Kelleher, president of Daytona International Speedway, in a statement. “As good neighbors in the Florida sports community, DIS will be speaking with the Jacksonville Jaguars to see if we can assist them with their potential upcoming facility needs around our scheduled events.”

Daytona International Speedway hosted Soccer Fest in July 2022. An announced crowd of 7,573 fans saw the Orlando Pride and Racing Louisville play in a National Women’s Soccer League game at Daytona.

NASCAR displays counterfeit part from Chase Briscoe car


SONOMA, Calif. — NASCAR displayed the counterfeit part from Chase Briscoe‘s car on Saturday at Sonoma Raceway, showing how the part did not correspond to what should have been in the car.

NASCAR found the issue at its R&D Center after last month’s Coca-Cola 600. The sanctioning body fined crew chief John Klausmeier $250,000 and suspended him for six races. NASCAR also docked Briscoe and the team 120 points and 25 playoff points for the L3 infraction.

“We want to be transparent on the penalties,” said Brad Moran, managing director of the Cup Series as he displayed the counterfeit part to media.

Moran displayed a a portion of the engine panel from Briscoe’s car. He noted the engine duct was counterfeit. He said the proper pieces are 3D printed at the R&D Center and Fiberworks Composites sells them and installs them for teams. Moran said the duct is “in the bottom of the car under the engine panel. It’s to help cool the driver. It was added prior to the first race. During testing … we realized we wanted to get heat out of the engine compartment, and that’s what this piece does.”

Moran noted that with the counterfeit part, “we can clearly see the textures are different (from the proper part).”

He displayed what officials call a gauge that determines if the duct fits the proper parameters. He showed it fitting a proper duct and not properly fitting in the counterfeit part.

“It was a part that was made, and it was made for whatever reason,” Moran said. “It was, I guess, put on by error, but it was on the vehicle. It is a piece that should not have been made in the first place, and it was spotted at our teardown at the R&D Center.”

Moran said the issue was found in a visual inspection of the part. NASCAR inspected it further and Moran said “there are certain little characteristics that are in (a proper piece)” that officials did not see in the one on Briscoe’s car. “The more we examined it, the more we realized that’s not a part they bought.”

Moran noted that while the penalties were severe, they could have been worse based on the rulebook.

“It was the low end of the L3,” Moran said. “It’s a real big hit for any team. If it continues, and we feel we are not where we need to be, unfortunately, it’s going to ramp up. We’re not going to stop.

“The deal with this car is it needs to be run without modifying. It costs teams a lot of money in development. All the owners agreed. We all agreed where we need to be to make this a successful program, and we’re not going to give up.”



Sunday Cup race at Sonoma Raceway: Start time, TV info, weather


The Cup Series heads to wine country to compete on the 1.99-mile road course at Sonoma Raceway. This race leads into the final off weekend of the season. After the break, the series races 20 consecutive weekends. NBC and USA will broadcast those races.

Details for Sunday’s Cup race at Sonoma Raceway

(All times Eastern)

START: Adam Devine will give the command to start engines at 3:38 p.m. … The green flag is scheduled to wave at 3:50 p.m.

PRERACE: Cup garage opens at 12:30 p.m. … Drivers meeting is at 2:45 p.m. … Driver intros are at 3 p.m. … Earl Smith, pastor for the Golden State Warriors and San Francisco 49ers, will give the invocation at 3:30 p.m. … Tiffany Woys will perform the national anthem at 3:31 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 110 laps (218.9 miles) on the 1.99-mile road course.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends at Lap 25. Stage 2 ends at Lap 55.

STARTING LINEUP: Qualifying begins at 6 p.m. Saturday

TV/RADIO: Fox will broadcast the race at 3:30 p.m. … Coverage begins at 2 p.m. on FS1 and switches to Fox at 3 p.m. … Performance Racing Network coverage begins at 2:30 p.m. and also will stream at goprn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the PRN broadcast.


FORECAST: Weather Underground — Partly cloudy with a high of 69 degrees and a 1% chance of rain at the start of the race.

LAST YEAR: Daniel Suarez won his first career Cup race last year at Sonoma. Chris Buescher finished second. Michael McDowell placed third.


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