Hendrick GM on Stewart-Haas relationship: ‘Not business as usual’ but pledges full support

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Doug Duchardt, general manager of Hendrick Motorsports, says that “it’s not business as usual” with Stewart-Haas Racing but pledged to Stewart-Haas fans that Hendrick will provide “successful chassis and engines for those teams.’’

Duchardt made those comments Thursday on “The Morning Drive” on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

Duchardt said he found out last month about Stewart-Haas Racing’s decision to leave Chevrolet for Ford in 2017 after SHR officials informed Rick Hendrick. Duchardt said he’s had discussions with Greg Zipadelli, vice president of competition for Stewart-Haas Racing, about how the organizations will work together this year. Hendrick supplies Stewart-Haas with engines, chassis and technical support.

“Obviously, the relationship has changed,’’ Duchardt said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “It’s not business as usual. For sure, I feel like that Greg and I are on the same page on how we are going to work together this year and move forward. We’re going to work as professionally as we can to get through 2016. We both have the same goals and that’s win races and championships and this year is going to be for Chevrolet.’’

Duchardt said Hendrick will work with “integrity” with Stewart-Haas Racing this year.

“I don’t want any of the Stewart-Haas fans to think that we’re not going to do what we can to have successful and competitive engines and chassis for those teams,’’ Duchardt said. “We’re going to absolutely make sure that is the case, but in ’17 we’re going to work on how to make ourselves even better.’’

With Stewart-Haas Racing’s departure after this season, Hendrick Motorsports loses a customer for its engine and chassis shop. Duchardt said Hendrick addressed those matters with the organization.

“He was in our engine shop and our chassis shop (Wednesday) morning explaining to everyone that we are not reducing head count in 2017, and we are going to focus on getting better and focus on the customers we do have and ourselves and take whatever resource we have and double down and do the very best we can for next year,’’ Duchardt said.

“I have no concerns about moving forward and being more competitive.’’

Duchardt said they’d look at an alliance with another Chevrolet team if one becomes available. Hendrick supplies engines to Chip Ganassi Racing and HScott Motorsports.

“My phone hasn’t rang, but we’re open to listening to what people have to say, but right now we’re focused on the customers we have,’’ Duchardt said. “If someone wants to talk, obviously we’ll listen.’’