As Danica Patrick said Thursday, sometimes change is a good thing. Change can be a business decision, as it was by Stewart-Haas Racing to change manufacturers in 2017 from Chevrolet to Ford.
A change doesn’t always bring immediate improvements, with some manufacturer realignments leading to success after a couple of years.
But owner-driver Tony Stewart has been a part of a big manufacturer change that saw instant results. The 2008 season was Stewart’s last with Joe Gibbs Racing before heading to SHR. But it was also JGR’s first year with Toyota after being with General Motors, under the Chevrolet and Pontiac banners, since 1993.
That first season, with a driver stable of Stewart, Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin, saw JGR win 10 races after earning just four the previous year with Chevrolet. The trio also combined for 39 top-five and 55 top-10 finishes and finished eighth through 10th in the point standings.
In 2003, JGR went from Pontiac to Chevrolet and earned four wins, 24 top-five and 35 top-10 finishes between Stewart and Bobby Labonte. The victories equaled what Stewart and Labonte scored the previous year but the top-fives and top-10s were higher with Chevrolet.
Michael Waltrip Racing, Red Bull Racing and Bill Davis Racing ushered Toyota’s debut Sprint Cup season in 2007. None is still competing.
In 2006, MWR competed in five races with Chevrolet. BDR competed with Dodge.
In that first season with Toyota, MWR fielded five drivers in 69 total starts and finished with two top-five finishes and one pole. Bill Davis Racing sent six drivers into competition for 52 starts and came out on the other end with one top-five and two top-10 finishes and one pole.
Before SHR’s announcement Wednesday, the most recent manufacturer change was Furniture Row Racing going from Chevrolet to Toyota for this season. The move has already translated into a second-place result in the Daytona 500 in the closest finish in race history.
The 2014 season saw the one-car team of JTG Daugherty go from Toyota to Chevrolet. Its first season with the Bow Tie included the team’s first win, with AJ Allmendinger at Watkins Glen. Allmendinger finished the season 13th in points with his win, two top-five and five top-10 finishes.
The season before that, Team Penske made the switch to Ford from Dodge after Brad Keselowski won the team and the manufacturer their first Sprint Cup title in 2012.
The 2013 season saw two combined wins between Keselowski and Joey Logano and 20 top-five and 35 top-10 finishes a year after Keselowski won five races on the way to the title.
Ford also gained Richard Petty Motorsports in 2010. RPM’s three full-time drivers finished 19th, 23rd and 27th in the point standings. Kasey Kahne ran in 31 races and earned seven top-five and nine top-10 finishes and three poles before moving to Red Bull Racing. RPM’s full-time drivers of Allmendinger, Paul Menard and Elliott Sadler (Aric Almirola drove the last five races for Kahne) combined for three top-five and 15 top-10 finishes and two poles.
In 2009, Chip Ganassi Racing jumped from Dodge to Chevrolet. After fielding six drivers in 76 starts in 2008 and earning three top-five and five top-10 finishes, Ganassi had just three drivers – two full-time – in its first year with Chevy. Juan Pablo Montoya and Martin Truex Jr. earned eight top-five and 24 top-10 finishes and five poles. Montoya qualified for the Chase for the Sprint Cup and finished eighth. Truex finished the year in 23rd.