In what is undoubtedly the biggest news of the new Sprint Cup season, Stewart-Haas racing announced Wednesday that they will be switching from Chevrolets to Fords for the 2017 season. While Tony Stewart plans to retire at the end of this year’s campaign the team still retains a stellar lineup. Ford Racing fans will welcome the addition of Danica Patrick, Kevin Harvick, Kurt Bush, and Stewart’s replacement, Clint Boyer, behind the wheel of Ford Performance Racing Fusions next year.
Stewart-Haas teams are currently using Hendrick Motorsports chassis and engines but will develop their own chassis program for 2017. Roush Yates engines will provide the muscle to power their race cars once they display the Blue Oval on their hood. The switch will help to even
the manufacture playing field for the 36 NASCAR charter teams. Pending further changes, the numbers for 2017 will see 14 Fords, 7 Toyotas, and 15 Chevrolets guaranteed starting spots for each race.
Ford executives are likely giddy over the coup that caught even NASCAR insiders by surprise, Stewart indicated the team had been working on the move for six months. Ford Performance Global Director Dave Pericak stated: “We don’t race to race…we race to win.” Pericak cited Stewart-Hass as a team that is known for their technical expertise and their approach to the sport would provide a good blend with Ford’s current aspirations to improve their on-track performance.
Adding Kurt Bush to the Ford stable gives Ford fans cause for hope. Bush was the last Ford driver to win a Sprint Cup Championship driving for Roush Racing in 2004. Ten plus years is a long time to wait and while 2016 still holds significant promise for the Ford teams, 2017’s Ford line-up can only improve on the odds of delivering that elusive championship title.