Haas Signed Busch Without Consulting Stewart; Will Fourth Car Overburden Team?
Stewart-Haas Racing co-Owner Gene Haas yesterday "stole the show in nonchalantly revealing how he overruled and angered" co-Owner Tony Stewart in "deciding the team -- already trying to recover from expansion to a third car this season -- would add a fourth car in 2014," according to Nate Ryan of USA TODAY. Haas said, "I don't think Tony was exactly enthralled with what I did, but I think he saw it my way. Either that or get out of the building." Haas decided he would hire Kurt Busch with Haas Automation as primary sponsor -- "constituting roughly a blank check" of at least $15-20M -- "without consulting Stewart and deal with the consequences when the oft-irascible three-time champion learned of it." Haas said, "I probably overstepped my authority a tick. I'm not used to having too many authorities to work with. ... I did realize that Tony might be a little bit upset about it. He was. At first he said, 'Oh, wow, we can't really do this because this is going to be too much of a load on the team. We're not prepared for it. We don't have the space.' He actually is an astute businessman. He thought about all these little things. I didn't think about any of that." Ryan notes the "bifurcation" between Haas and Stewart "might qualify as the most bizarre episode of the 2013 season." SHR Competition Dir Greg Zipadelli said, "Tony was very much in favor of the fourth team. What Tony was against was us trying to get it done for next year." Haas said of his relationship with Stewart, "In a sense it's a check-and-balance system where the two powers balance each other out." Ryan writes there will be "many challenges ahead for SHR, though, starting with the expansion of its facilities" (USA TODAY, 8/28).
DIRECT REPORT: SPORTING NEWS' Bob Pockrass wrote Busch "gets the benefit of having no sponsor to answer to -- with the sponsor primarily being the team owner." The team "does not have a car number, a crew chief or crew yet." Stewart was "unable to attend" yesterday's news conference "because he is pretty much limited to his home and the doctor’s office" (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 8/27).
FEARSOME FOURSOME: In Orlando, George Diaz writes SHR's drivers "will be the NASCAR Dream Team of 2014." Fox analyst Larry McReynolds said, "If they can make it work, they can be a group that can truly compete with Hendrick [Motorsports] -- if they can make these personalities mesh." Diaz writes the SHR team is "volatile and has star power." Busch yesterday said, "You know, I got a bunch of phone calls, of course, in the last couple weeks. The last one before I came in here today was Kevin Harvick. Ten years ago we weren't in a place in our careers to do this." Haas said, "I take gambles, I made a decision, and I think I'm going to be proven right. I think we're going to win a lot more races than anybody ever thought possible" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 8/28). ESPN’s Marty Reid asked Busch, “It sounded like Gene Haas is not asking you to do a bunch of personal appearances, that he just wants you to focus on the racecar. Are we reading that right?” Busch said, "Absolutely, it’s all about going for those trophies and performing well on-track and my contract says so as well." ESPN’s Brad Daugherty said of the signing, "I don’t think there’s going to be as much drama as we believe or as we think there will be because of the attitudes and the personalities" (“NASCAR Now, ESPN2, 8/28).