Stewart-Haas Racing have made a NASCAR Cup Series driver lineup change after each of the last five seasons. Will that continue after 2021?
Not since between the 2015 and 2016 NASCAR Cup Series seasons have the four drivers who competed for Stewart-Haas Racing all returned to Stewart-Haas Racing the following year.
After 2016, it was team co-owner Tony Stewart who retired, and Clint Bowyer took over behind the wheel of the #14 Chevrolet-turned-Ford. After 2017, it was Danica Patrick who retired, and Aric Almirola replaced her behind the wheel of the #10 Ford.
Then after 2018, Kurt Busch left for Chip Ganassi Racing, and Daniel Suarez was hired to drive the #41 Ford. Suarez lasted for only one season before Cole Custer was brought in after 2019. After 2020, Bowyer retired, and Chase Briscoe replaced him behind the wheel of the #14 Ford.
Kevin Harvick is under contract through 2023, but there have been a few question marks regarding the futures of the other drivers.
It is pretty clear that Custer and Briscoe aren’t going anywhere, given the fact that the 2021 season is just their second and first season in the Cup Series, respectively.
As for Almirola, that’s where there has been some confusion, with some reports stating that he is a pending free agent and others saying that the deal he signed last year is a multi-year extension that ties him to the organization through at least 2022. But Stewart confirmed to Beyond the Flag that there are no plans to make any driver lineup changes, which would see a five-year streak of bringing back just three of four drivers come to an end.
While this is a five-year trend, Stewart was quick to note that the team do have a history of long-term relationships with drivers, and they certainly never had any intention of making these changes out of habit.
“We’ve had a history of having long-term relationships,” Stewart told Beyond the Flag. “We don’t have any plans to make any changes right now. We’re happy with our lineup, we’re happy with our guys. We feel like they’ve all contributed and worked really well together to try to find solutions. This is the lineup I want for next season.”