In one of the most unexpected manufacturer realignments in NASCAR history, Ford Performance announced Wednesday morning that Stewart-Haas Racing will switch from Chevrolet to Ford starting with the 2017 NASCAR season.
SHR currently fields the teams of Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch and Danica Patrick, and has been with Chevrolet since its inception in 2009 when Stewart joined with team founder Gene Haas to become co-owner of the organization formerly known as Haas CNC Racing.
“Motorsports is an extremely challenging environment where in order to maintain success you have to constantly innovate. It’s true in NASCAR and it’s true in business,” Haas said. “We’ve enjoyed great success with Chevrolet, but this opportunity with Ford allows us to evolve while continuing to compete at the highest levels of the sport.”
SHR has won two Sprint Cup championships in its seven-year existence — with Stewart in 2011 and Harvick in 2014.
“I am proud of our association with Chevrolet as they helped build our organization into the team it is today,” said Stewart. “This new partnership with Ford allows us to strengthen our position in the sport and ensure the long-term stability and success for everyone who is a part of Stewart-Haas Racing.”
The move to Ford will mean the end of SHR’s longstanding technical alliance with Hendrick Motorsports — a fellow Chevy organization — from which SHR receives engines and chassis.
As part of the new multiyear agreement with Ford, SHR teams will race the Ford Fusion with Ford engines prepared by Roush Yates Engines.
"We are thrilled to be able to add a championship-level team like Stewart-Haas Racing to our Ford NASCAR program," said Raj Nair, executive vice president and Chief Technical Officer, Ford Motor Company. "Tony Stewart and Gene Haas have the same passion for winning that we do, and bring a strong stable of drivers and personnel that fit into what we’re trying to do in the sport."
"We have said very clearly that we are not in NASCAR just to race, but to win races and championships," said Dave Pericak, global director, Ford Performance. "We believe the addition of Stewart-Haas Racing in 2017 will give our program a major boost in terms of being in contention for both drivers’ and manufacturers’ championships every year.
"We believe that our NASCAR engineering experience and tools match up very well with the expertise and personnel that Stewart-Haas Racing has in house right now, and that we will both benefit from this partnership going forward."
Stewart-Haas will join a Ford NASCAR lineup for 2017 that includes Team Penske, Roush Fenway Racing, Wood Brothers Racing, Richard Petty Motorsports and Front Row Motorsports. Roush Yates Engines is Ford’s technical partner for NASCAR race engines.
SHR will continue its current manufacturer relationship with Chevy throughout the 2016 season.
Clint Bowyer will replace Stewart in the No. 14 car in 2017, once Stewart retires from driving after the 2016 season. Stewart, a three-time Sprint Cup champion, is currently out indefinitely with a back injury but is expected to return later this year.
Brian Vickers drove Stewart’s car at Daytona, and Ty Dillon will jump in the No. 14 this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway before Vickers returns the following weekend at Las Vegas.