After winning the closest title battle in NASCAR, Stewart-Haas Racing is back and ready to start 2012. The team has somewhat of a new look this year, with three new faces introduced Monday on the first day of the Sprint Media Tour. Ryan Newman and Tony Gibson return to the No. 39. Tony Stewart has a new crew chief in Steve Addington, who joins the organization after serving as head wrench for Kurt Busch at Penske Racing last year. SHR is also expanding to a third car with Danica Patrick in the new No. 10 GoDaddy.com-sponsored Chevrolet. Greg Zipadelli, who worked with Stewart during Stewart’s entire tenure at Joe Gibbs Racing, rejoins Stewart’s team as Competition Director, and will also serve as Patrick’s crew chief this year.
Patrick will run a limited Cup schedule in 2012, including the Daytona 500 and the Coca-Cola 600. She will not attempt to run the Indianapolis 500 this year. Patrick will run for the Nationwide Series title with JR Motorsports in the No.7. She says that expectations in that series are to run “solid top-ten, top-five. I’d like to get to victory lane.” In her cup ride, Patrick will be looking mainly for seat time. “Running in the top 20 may be a good goal,” she says. Zipadelli and Stewart agreed that the most important thing for Patrick will be to finish races and to gain as much experience in the seat as possible. For the season opener, though, Patrick has a loftier goal. “I feel good about it. We have a good chance to win,” said Patrick, citing Trevor Bayne’s victory in 2011 as an inspiration for that statement.
The team also announced additional sponsorship for 2012 from Aspen Dental. Stewart calls 2012 “our best year” as far as sponsorship goes, adding that while there is pressure to reapeat as champion, from the sponsor side of the coin, that’s a very good thing as the sponsors are squarely in the spotlight. Newman is grateful for the additional sponsorship, even though he noted that it adds pressure to perform. Newman enters 2012 looking to visit victory lane for the third straight year with Stewart-Hass Racing.
Stewart will run the season-opening Nationwide Series race in 2012 in the No. 33 for Richard Childress Racing. He will try to defend his 2011 Cup title when that series kicks off with the Daytona 500-a race which the three-time champion has never won, despite dominating at Daytona in the Nationwide Series and winning three times in the Cup July Race.