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Loganity: SHR Is Closing Its Doors; Now What?

This week, Tony Stewart and Gene Haas announced that Stewart Haas Racing will be shutting down following the conclusion of the 2024 NASCAR season. While not entirely surprising, the announcement marks the end of a very sudden downfall of a one-time powerhouse in the NASCAR garage. It creates a whirlwind of questions, the most pressing being what happens to the multiple drivers now looking for rides in 2025 and beyond.  Another burning question is what will happen to the four charters SHR will sell, now that their future is clear. We already have some news on that front, Bob Pockrass of Fox Sports reports, “Sources indicate Front Row, 23XI and Trackhouse will each obtain one of the SHR charters. The fourth is more unclear.” 

Front Row Motorsports announced that they have acquired a third charter, though as of now they have yet to confirm that it was purchased from SHR. We already know Michael McDowell is heading to Spire Motorsports next season. That means there will be two openings at Front Row Motorsports in 2025. Could Josh Berry and Noah Gragson fit the bill for the team? I think so. While both drivers still need to find victory lane this season both have impressed with their team. Berry currently sits 19th in the season standings, while Gragson sits 21st. The news couldn’t come at a worse time for those drivers, who both seem to be on the upswing. Gragson has been a major surprise and Berry has begun to find his footing as of late, breaking into the top ten twice.

The challenging part for the drivers looking for rides is that the teams looking to acquire those charters may already have plans for them. 23XI Racing may want to add a third charter for Corey Heim, who has dominated in the Craftsman Truck Series this season. Trackhouse Racing has Zane Smith and Shane Van Gisbergan waiting in the wings. 

This situation also creates questions for Chase Briscoe and Ryan Preece. Briscoe will likely have the most comfortable landing of all the Stewart-Haas Racing drivers. If the rumors that Harrison Burton is on the hot seat at Wood Brothers Racing are to be believed, I think there’s a high likelihood that Briscoe lands in the 21 car. The future for Ryan Preece appears much more murky. His most likely destination is somewhere in the Xfinity Series. Perhaps the most important question of all is how did we get here? Stewart-Haas Racing was a staple of the garage and until recently a consistent championship contender. Tony Stewart and Kevin Harvick have won championships for the team. Kurt Busch had some of his best runs for this team.  What does it say about the state of NASCAR when big names can no longer survive?  Sure, Tony Stewart has several different ventures that take his time and attention, namely his pursuits in NHRA. I’m sure all of that factors into his and Gene Haas’s decision. We’re talking about a team that at the start of the season seemed to signal a renewed commitment to bouncing back and becoming a contender again. Fans are wondering what changed so abruptly. 

But there’s a deeper issue. A growing trend in recent years has been teams either having to merge or shut down entirely and while there’s bound to be turnover in this sport, the growing trend is alarming. Something in NASCAR needs to change. When a name of the stature of Tony Stewart decides it’s no longer viable to operate a race team, that raises concerns. Other household names have sold recently as well. Kyle Busch sold Kyle Busch Motorsports to Spire Motorsports last season. Chip Ganassi sold to Justin Marks. Richard Petty merged with Maury Gallagher to form what would eventually become Legacy Motor Club.  Something has to give. NASCAR is making incredible profits and yet, teams are struggling to survive. Something doesn’t add up. You may argue that teams surviving isn’t NASCAR’s responsibility. However, what is NASCAR without its teams and its drivers? NASCAR needs to find a way to share some of their wealth. If NASCAR continues to make record profits but teams keep shutting down, why should teams keep investing in the sport?


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