So what does a switch from Chevrolets to Fords mean for Stewart-Haas Racing this year and next?
It’s instructive to look back in the recent past.
On March 1, 2012, Team Penske announced that it would change manufacturers from Dodge to Ford for 2013. Despite being lame ducks with Dodge for the remainder of the 2012 season, Penske went on that year to win its only Sprint Cup championship, with Brad Keselowski taking the title.
Brad Keselowski won the 2012 Sprint Cup championship in Team Penske’s last season with Dodge before switching to Ford.
In 2012, Penske’s last year with Dodge, Keselowski won five races, had 13 top fives and 23 top 10s.
When Penske switched to Ford in 2013, Keselowski had one win, nine top fives and 16 top 10s, falling to 14th in points.
In 2007, Tony Stewart had three victories, 11 top fives and 23 top 10s for JGR, with those numbers dipping to one victory, 10 top fives and 18 top 10s in ’08, the first year with Toyota.
The other big difference for JGR in ’08 was replacing, J.J. Yeley with Kyle Busch, who won a career-high eight races in his first season with the team.
Tony Stewart switched from Chevrolet to Toyota during his final season with Joe Gibbs Racing in 2008.
These numbers are not large enough to be statistically significant, certainly, but the challenges for SHR this year and next are significant. The team now gets its engines and chassis from Hendrick Motorsports and that dynamic, according to both sides, is changing.
Appearing on SIRIUS/XM NASCAR radio Thursday morning, Hendrick Motorsports General Manager Doug Duchardt described it as "a little bit of a ticklish discussion, because we’ve never, ever really explained what we shared beforehand."
Duchardt said the two organizations have a lot of respect for each other.
"Obviously, the relationship has changed," Duchardt said. "… It’s not business as usual, I’ll just say that. … But we’re going to work as professionally as possible to get through 2016. We both have the same goals and that’s to win races and championships."
For his part, Stewart, too, said he knew the relationship would change this year.
"We’ve had a great relationship with their motor program, the chassis program and the technical side and we’re grateful for the partnership we’ve had with them, but, obviously, it will change in some respects for 2016 with this news, but we believe we’ll still have a really good working relationship for another year this year," said Stewart.