Stewart-Haas Racing to add full-time Xfinity Series team in 2017

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The 2017 NASCAR season will be one of significant change for Stewart-Haas Racing, including:

* Team co-owner Tony Stewart retiring at the end of 2016 and being replaced by Clint Bowyer.

* The organization’s move from Chevrolet to Ford next season.

And on Monday, the team announced that it will expand, adding a full-time NASCAR Xfinity Series team to its four-car Sprint Cup operation.

The driver and sponsor lineup will be announced near the end of this season, and the team will be based in SHR’s headquarters in Kannapolis, North Carolina, the team said in a media release.

“In order to maintain the competitiveness that has earned SHR two championships since our debut in 2009, we needed an outlet to develop drivers and team personnel for the Sprint Cup Series,” SHR vice president of competition Greg Zipadelli said in a statement. “People make the difference between winning and losing.

“An Xfinity Series team gives us added depth that will allow us to promote from within whenever necessary.”

The move comes after a Ford executive recently said the manufacturer planned to be more aggressive in seeking young driversThis move will give Ford another outlet to put a young driver in the Xfinity Series.

Since Stewart-Haas Racing formed in 2009, it has won two Sprint Cup championships – 2011 with Stewart and 2014 with current Sprint Cup points leader Kevin Harvick.

The team has won 33 point-paying races, two non-point races and 28 poles.

“An Xfinity Series team has always been something we would consider when the time was right, and that time is now,” Stewart said. “Staying successful in this sport means staying ahead of the curve, and having an Xfinity Series team provides an in-house driver development program and a new channel for personnel to make a positive impact with our race team.”

Added co-owner Gene Haas: “This is a natural progression of SHR’s growth and one that allows us to be more self-sufficient. If you look at all the teams that are successful in Sprint Cup, they have a direct connection to the Xfinity Series where drivers, engineers, mechanics and pit crew members are developed. We’re an established team with a strong infrastructure that is ready for this endeavor.”

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