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Stewart-Haas Racing Drivers Blocking Out the ‘Noise’ Surrounding Team’s Future

DARLINGTON, S.C. — With a new logo, new sponsors and the acquisitions of Josh Berry and Noah Gragson, the 2024 offseason was a time of change for Stewart-Haas Racing.

The team has had a solid start in what has been a down year for Ford, as Chase Briscoe and Gragson have combined for nine top-10 finishes in the first 12 races of the NASCAR Cup Series season. Briscoe is 12th in points, while Gragson is 19th despite a 35-point penalty assessed toward the start of the year.

But all those gains have been drowned out in the headlines by the uncertainties surrounding the team. SHR has been rumored to sell one or two of its charters since the start of the year, and the team has reportedly been contacting potential suitors for a price. But the rumor mill took a sharp turn last week, and there’s now a possibility that SHR might sell everything but the kitchen sink.

Despite the uncertainty surrounding SHR and its futures, its drivers are determined to block out the noise and press onward with the season.

“We’re just trying to stick to what we know and work hard and prepare for each and every weekend and not let the outside noise distract us,” Gragson said. “There’s obviously a lot of that going on right now, but I feel like if we can keep on doing our job as a group, there’d still hopefully be opportunity for us.

“With that being said, I’m so thankful and grateful for the No. 10 team, our group of guys on this team. They work so hard and I’m fortunate to be a part of it. We’re not letting the outside noise distract us. We’re just focused on the goal ahead and stick to the plan and keeping our standard.”

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“We all read it on the internet over and over again, right?” Berry said. “Obviously, when there’s smoke, there’s fire. All we can just go out and do is just try to do our best each and every week.

“We can all talk about pressure and different things, but the reality of it is that we’re all trying to do the best we can each and every day, and sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t. And for us, we’re just going to keep doing things right, trying to do everything we can to keep running up front and see what happens.”

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With his Cup rookie season back in 2021, Briscoe has been SHR’s longest-tenured driver since Kevin Harvick retired at the end of last year. Rumors aside, Briscoe commented on the growth that SHR has made this season in terms of teamwork, cooperation and cohesion.

“I feel like over the off season, the drivers probably spent more time together,” Briscoe said. “Everything this year has been better from a standpoint of a team side of things. Not that we weren’t a team before, but we certainly were almost four individual teams than just one organization, and now I feel like we’re trying to really work more as one organization.

“The teams from the crew chief side, the driver’s side, even the crew guys’ side. There are times in the past where I felt like some of my crew guys maybe didn’t even know other crew guys inside the organization. But now we all kind of hang out. The No. 41 guys, the No. 10 guys, all of us kind of hang out and do different stuff together.”

And just like Berry and Gragson, Briscoe hasn’t let the recent noise get to him or his team.

“I just feel like as a whole, we’re just in a way better place, and obviously there is a lot of uncertainty, and that’s where I think you got to stay strong” Briscoe said. “If you start cracking from the inside, that’s when things go really bad, really, really quickly.”

He’s also experienced this exact situation in the past, as Brad Keselowski Racing closed at the end of the 2017 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series season, which left Briscoe out of a ride. He was later picked up SHR for a part-time Xfinity schedule in 2018, and he’s been with the team ever since.

“With all the rumors and stuff, I have a little bit of experience with this,” Briscoe said. “From my BKR days in the Truck Series, that team did shut down, and we were still able to win our last race ever as a company. I think just being able to experience that early on in my career has helped me a little bit, just trying to keep guys focused and motivated for whatever may come. That’s the big thing: just trying to stay positive and control what you can control.”

About the author

Stephen Stumpf is the NASCAR Content Director for Frontstretch, and his weekly columns include “Stat Sheet” and “4 Burning Questions.” Stephen also writes commentary, contributes weekly to the “Bringing the Heat” podcast and is frequently at the track for on-site coverage. A native of Texas, Stephen began following NASCAR at age 9 after attending his first race at Texas Motor Speedway.

Follow on Twitter @stephen_stumpf.

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Carl D.

Might as well go ahead and start silly season…

Echo

All they can do is continue but the smart ones will be thinking of a backup plan. You have to, you can’t say oh I wasn’t even thinking about it. Duh

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