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Stewart-Haas seeks 'rookie' magic
Editor's note: As we get closer to the 2011 season-opening Daytona 500 (Feb. 20 on FOX), FOXSports.com takes you along for the ride during the NASCAR Sprint Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway.
From Monday through Thursday, we will provide an inside look at several NASCAR Sprint Cup teams taking part in the tour, including expert analysis from members of the NASCAR on FOX team.
After such a strong rookie year as an organization in 2009, Stewart-Haas Racing was somewhat of a head scratcher in 2010.
You would have to say it suffered the cliche “sophomore slump.” In this organization's first year in 2009, Tony Stewart won races and both teams made the Chase. However, at the start of 2010, both Tony and teammate Ryan Newman struggled. In fact, in late spring/early summer, there were some doubts as to whether this organization would be shut ouf of the Chase. Stewart did make it, and both drivers picked up their efforts to have strong ends to the season, but as a whole, they were unable replicate the success of a year earlier.
Stewart and Newman need to find more week-to-week consistency. Both teams won races last year, but that's not enough for them – they want to win championships. If SHR can ramp up its consistency, there is no doubt both will win races and make the Chase in 2011.
It’ll be real interesting to see how SHR begins the season at Daytona. Let’s face it, outside of winning the 2008 Daytona 500, Newman has been the poster child for issues at restrictor-plate races. Those guys have said that a win to them at those types of races is just being able to roll their car back on the hauler without damage. Stewart is becoming a little bit like Dale Earnhardt in that he’s won everything there is to win at Daytona – the Gatorade Duel races, Budweiser Shootout, February Nationwide Series race, July Sprint Cup race – but not the 500. He’s come close many times, but he just cannot win the big one.
Inside Stewart-Haas Racing
Team No. 14
Driver: Tony Stewart (Finished seventh in the 2010 Sprint Cup standings, 39 career Cup wins)
Crew chief: Darian Grubb
Primary sponsor: Office Depot/Mobil 1 ( Check out their 2011 ride)
Team No. 39
Driver: Ryan Newman (Finished 15th in the 2010 Sprint Cup standings, 14 career Cup wins)
Crew chief: Tony Gibson
Primary sponsor: U.S. Army/Tornados ( Check out their 2011 ride)