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Stewart-Haas Racing to close NASCAR teams at end of season

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Stewart-Haas Racing, a two-time NASCAR champion team with 69 Cup Series victories since its formation in 2009, will close its organization at the end of this season.

Co-owners Tony Stewart and Gene Haas announced the decision Tuesday after nearly a year of rumors that their four-car Cup Series team was looking to sell its charters and reduce or exit the stock car series entirely. The news was communicated to SHR’s nearly 300 employees Tuesday afternoon.

“It is a decision that was not easy or quick,” the owners said. “Racing is a hard-working and humbling sport. It requires unwavering commitment and vast resources, with a 365-day mentality to be better than everyone else. It’s part of what makes success so rewarding. But commitment necessary to extract maximum performance while providing sustainability is incredibly demanding and we have reached a point in our respective personal and business lives where it is time to pass the torch.”

SHR this year features Cup Series cars for Josh Berry, Chase Briscoe, Noah Gragson and Ryan Preece. Berry and Gragson are in their first seasons with the team. SHR has the 2025 option on Briscoe and contractually has not been allowed to discuss future employment options, even as rumors have circulated that SHR would go out of business.

“Stewart Haas has been home for my family and I for the last 7 years and at the end of the year myself and the entire organization will be looking for a new home and new opportunities in the Cup Series,” Briscoe posted on social media . “I have amazing partners behind me and I can’t wait to get them back to victory lane.”

The move will also close the SHR Xfinity Series team, with two cars driven by Cole Custer and Riley Herbst.

Gene Haas founded Haas CNC Racing in 2002 and the California businessman attracted Stewart as co-owner before the 2009 season. Stewart had won two Cup championships for Joe Gibbs Racing at the time, but couldn’t turn down an ownership stake and the opportunity. of helping a small team win races and compete for titles.

Stewart, in his debut season in 2009, gave the renamed team its first Cup victory (it won four races that year) and its first Cup title in 2011. Kevin Harvick added a second championship in 2014.

Stewart, Harvick and Clint Bowyer have all retired from NASCAR driving and SHR has since been in a grueling rebuild. The organization’s last Cup Series victory was in 2022 with Harvick a year before retiring. SHR did not win any Cup races last season.

The team will also lose some support from Ford at the end of the season, although Mark Rushbrook, global director of Ford Performance, told The Associated Press last week that he had no idea what SHR’s plans are beyond this year.

SHR also lost a major sponsorship this season when Smithfield Foods exited NASCAR and Anheuser-Busch moved to Trackhouse Racing.

Haas, 71, spends most of his time with his Formula 1 team and Stewart drives a full NHRA schedule, making both owners absent from NASCAR events. Haas was also sick much of last year.

The NASCAR team is primarily led by Joe Custer, the chief operating officer and longtime confidant of Gene Haas. His son, Cole, won the Xfinity championship last year for SHR.

Among SHR’s accomplishments are two Cup titles, two Xfinity championships and victories that include crown jewel events such as the Daytona 500, Brickyard 400 and Southern 500.

“We’re proud of all the wins and championships we’ve earned since we joined in 2009, but even more special is the culture we built and the friendships we forged while committing to a common cause: winning races and collecting trophies,” said Stewart. and Haas. “We have tremendous respect and appreciation for all of our employees and will work diligently to help them through this transition to find new opportunities beyond the 2024 racing season.”

Part of the Haas F1 team is managed from the Kannapolis-based workshop and it is unclear if that will continue or if Haas has plans to leave F1 as well.

It is also unclear what happens to the four statutes that SHR has that guarantee entry to the field each week. Last year, Spire Motorsports purchased a lease for $40 million, but the actual value of the lease fluctuates annually.

The teams are in a bitter fight with NASCAR over the bylaws, which are set to expire at the end of this season. Teams want them to be permanent and non-renewable, but NASCAR has refused to budge on the issue.

If SHR could sell the charters, there appears to be interest from Front Row Motorsports, 23XI Racing and Trackhouse. There is also speculation that Joe Custer could keep one of the statutes and manage a car for his son.

It is unknown where the SHR drivers land. Briscoe should be able to start talking to other teams now about his future. The team also had an option for next year on Berry, who doesn’t bring much personal sponsorship and got a career break from him when SHR signed him before this season.

Gragson’s contract was announced as a multi-year deal and has the support of Bass Pro Shops to bring him to another team. He preece has one year of contract with SHR, so he was already free to compare prices in the series.

Cole Custer could end up in a car in the Cup or Xfinity Series with backing from Haas’ CNC Automation company, while Herbst has significant financial backing from Monster Energy that should give him options.

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