|Busch To SHR In 2014|
That signing – while technically not official until a 2 pm ET announcement by the team tomorrow – sets up a powerhouse lineup that includes a pair of former series champions in Busch and Tony Stewart, a perennial title contender in Kevin Harvick and much-heralded sophomore Danica Patrick.
It’s a match made in heaven.
We’ll just have to wait and see.
In Busch, Stewart and Harvick, SHR has assembled three thoroughbred talents; elite drivers who have always been – and expect to be – the lead driver in their operation’s respective lineup. There’s an old adage that says, “If you’re not the lead dog, the view never changes,” and it will be interesting to see how SHR handles three drivers who have grown accustomed to that lead-dog view.
|Busch and Harvick will talk more next year.|
While Stewart and Harvick are close friends off the race track, neither man is thought to be especially close with Busch. His hiring has already caused some awkward moments inside the walls at SHR when Stewart declared, "We are not ready to expand to a fourth team,” just days before discovering that his partner, Gene Haas, had already committed to doing so.
Those speed bumps will be smoothed over quickly, if they haven’t been already, and history indicates that off-field closeness is not a requirement for on-track success.
Former Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis made a career of melding a rogue’s gallery of malcontents and rebels into winning, cohesive teams. The Boston Red Sox experienced success in the 1980s despite a contentious clubhouse lineup that inspired the phrase, “25 players, 25 cabs.”
They don’t have to like each other, they just have to win.
On paper, the 2014 Stewart Haas Racing lineup seems certain to do just that. Not all preseason powerhouses experience success, however.
In 1987, team owner Rick Hendrick hired champion driver Darrell Waltrip and teamed him with renowned crew chief Waddell Wilson to form what many called NASCAR’s “Dream Team.” The tandem failed to mesh, however, with Waltrip going winless through the first 12 races of the season before Wilson was replaced by Jeff Hammond in one of the greatest disappointments in the sport’s modern era.
“Waddell Wilson was one of those things I felt strongly about,” said Waltrip, years later. “When I got Waddell, I thought we could put together a team that could be as dominant as anything anyone had ever seen. But the ‘Dream Team’ turned out to be a nightmare.”
"This is the kind of situation every driver wants to be in and I'm grateful to Gene Haas and Haas Automation for providing me this opportunity," said Busch to The Associated Press today. "Gene wants to win, and wants me to go out there and perform to the best of my abilities."
Hopefully, that will be enough.