Race Weekend Central

Where SHR Stands on Sponsorship as Season Draws Near

For Stewart-Haas Racing, the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season marked the end of an era. Its all-time winningest driver in Kevin Harvick retired at season’s end, while Aric Almirola moved on to Joe Gibbs Racing’s NASCAR Xfinity Series program for 2024 after a six-year tenure in SHR’s No. 10 car.

Half the lineup has departed, and after SHR’s first-ever winless season in Cup, the team has to reinvent itself.

For while 2023 may be the end of era, 2024 is the chance to start a new one.

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SHR began the new year on social media with a marketing campaign that culminated with the revelation of new logos and branding on Jan. 8.

But what the team has yet to reveal, however, is new sponsorship deals for incoming drivers Josh Berry and Noah Gragson.

Sponsorship for SHR in a post-Harvick world was a question mark from the moment that Harvick announced his retirement. As the 10th-winningest driver in Cup history, he had accumulated plenty of sponsors — sponsors that weren’t going to stick around once he hung up the helmet.

The first domino fell on July 11 of last year, as it was announced that Anheuser-Busch’s Busch Light sponsorship would move to Ross Chastain and Trackhouse Racing for 2024.

The second came a month ago when Hunt Brothers Pizza left SHR to enter a partnership with Joey Logano and Team Penske.

Co-owner Tony Stewart did not name any sponsors for the No. 4 car at the announcement of Berry’s signing on June 21, 2023, and the team has yet to name any sponsors for Berry on social media since the start of the offseason. In a recent photoshoot, equipment from the No. 4 team was still devoid of logos.

It’s possible that SHR has deals in place that haven’t been announced. The team alluded to that online.

But there’s only 24 days left until the Busch Light Clash at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. To outside observers, it’s a concerning to not have any deals announced by this point.

For the No. 10, Almirola’s departure meant his longtime sponsor in Smithfield left with him. The company sponsored 30 of the 36 points-paying Cup races last season, and that is a huge hole for SHR to fill in an era when full-season sponsorships have run dry.

A replacement still looks to be a work in progress for the No. 10 team. Gragson did his December SHR photoshoot in a black fire suit with no sponsors, and there hasn’t been any word since.

The one deal that SHR has announced over the offseason is a renewal with Mahindra Tractors, the sponsor of Chase Briscoe’s No. 14 in 16 of the 36 races last year. The team also shared a photo of Briscoe’s hauler, which revealed that longtime SHR partners Mobil 1, HighPoint.com, Rush Truck Centers, Code 3 Associates, Cummins and Ford Performance would also return.

With a plurality of races covered for Ryan Preece by Haas Automation and the seeming return for the majority of Briscoe’s sponsor lineup, SHR shouldn’t have trouble tying up loose ends on those two cars.

It will be difficult to fill the lineups for Berry and Gragson, and below is a list of sponsors for Harvick and Almirola in the 2023 season. Anheuser-Busch and Hunt Brothers have departed the No. 4, which means SHR has to find at least 19 races worth of deals. The Smithfield departure leaves more than 30 for the No. 10.

No. 4 sponsorship, 2023RacesNo. 10 sponsorship, 2023Races
Anheuser-Busch13Smithfield28
Mobil 17Smithfield/IHOP2
Hunt Brothers Pizza6IHOP2
Gearwrench5Ford2
Rheem3Go Bowling2
SunnyD2

So what is known about the other sponsors on the list?

Mobil 1 was seen on Briscoe’s new hauler, and it’s sponsored SHR in some capacity since 2011. Its sponsorship hasn’t been limited to Harvick either, as it repped Briscoe in a handful of races last season. It appears Mobil 1 will have some presence on Gragson’s car this year as well, at least according to the presence of a No. 10 Mobil 1 hat in one of his recent posts.

Likewise, it would be a surprise to see Go Bowling leave the No. 10 in 2024, as its sponsorship of SHR hadn’t been limited to Almirola.

Rheem has greater ties to Harvick than SHR, and it would not be a surprise to see it depart; its partnership with Harvick dates back to the late and 2000s and early 2010s in both Cup and Xfinity.

SunnyD and Gearwrench are up in the air. 2023 was the first season that SunnyD appeared on the No. 4, and it was also the sponsor for Riley Herbst in his Daytona 500 start with RWR. Gearwrench hasn’t had a long SHR tenure either, as it moved to Harvick in 2022 after previously sponsoring Kurt Busch at Chip Ganassi Racing in 2021.

It would be a good bet to think that long-term SHR partners like Rush Truck Centers and Mobil 1 will foot more of the bill this season in addition to Haas Automation and Ford. But enough sponsorship was lost that SHR has to seek outside partners.

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Gragson brought Black Rifle Coffee Company for a handful of races in his partial Cup season with Legacy Motor Club last year, and BRCC’s logos were off the No. 42 car once Gragson parted ways with the team in August. Wendy’s also sponsored Gragson for a few races last year, but it’s unknown if it’ll follow him again.

Berry’s 2023 Xfinity season with JR Motorsports was primarily covered by three sponsors. One of them, Jarrett Logistics Systems, will not make the jump with Berry, as it will instead move to JRM’s Justin Allgaier.

Tire Pros was Berry’s second sponsor, and it’s feasible to see it jump to SHR in some capacity. But the third sponsor — one that has ties with Berry, Gragson and Stewart — is one that could alleviate most the team’s woes: Bass Pro Shops.

Bass Pro Shops sponsored Martin Truex Jr., Austin Dillon and JRM last year, and owner Johnny Morris’ vast involvement in NASCAR is well documented. Bass Pro Shops also served as a sponsor for Stewart in the tail end of his driving career, and it further strengthened its relationship with Stewart after serving as the primary sponsor for the Camping World SRX Series.

If Bass Pro Shops were to hop on board and become a major partner for SHR, it would be a tremendous boost to the team and help narrow down its sponsorship search. But given how much sponsorship SHR needs and how much Bass Pro Shops already sponsors in NASCAR, such a scenario is wishful thinking.

Just over three weeks remain until the Clash on Feb. 4, and SHR is either waiting to announce deals or is continuing to search for more. If it’s the latter, time is quickly running out.

About the author

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Stephen Stumpf is the NASCAR Content Director for Frontstretch and is a three-year veteran of the site. His weekly columns include “Stat Sheet” and “4 Burning Questions.” He also writes commentary, contributes to podcasts, edits articles and is frequently at the track for on-site coverage.

Can find on Twitter @stephen_stumpf.

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Bill B

Very thorough Stephen. I hadn’t given SHR’s sponsorship woes much thought. Now I’m caught up.

Biggest take away… only 24 days until the unofficial start of the season.

Echo

Kyle Larson spoke out on how much money cup drivers are making now. The top 4 world of outlaws drivers are earning more than half the cup drivers each year.

Bill B

Wow. The sponsorship money has left the sport, for sure.
However since I have no idea what that amount is, I don’t know whether I should be happy for the WoO guys, or sorry for the Cup guys.I’m sure salaries are down compared to the boom years of the late 90s and into the 2000s, but if they are making 500K a year, it’s hard to feel sorry for them. If it’s substantially less than that, WOW!!!!
Honestly, I have no idea what salaries are today. If you have any insights, please share.

wildcats2016

Good article. Thanks for the information. Bill B – 24 days! awesome. I know I get annoyed at some of the changes that have been made over the past 10 years but I still miss watching races.

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