What brought Stewart-Haas Racing to the end of the line

Stewart-Haas Racing will be no more after 2024.

The news came Tuesday afternoon, dropped via a joint statement from Gene Haas and Tony Stewart. It’s an unceremonious end for an organization that a decade ago was celebrating its second NASCAR Cup Series championship. A championship — the second in four years — that solidified their place in the conversation about who the series’ leaders were.

Kevin Harvick won the 2014 championship. In his first year with the organization, Harvick won five races and led the series with 2,137 laps led.

In the press room that night, a question was posed about the satisfaction of proving the critics wrong. The Stewart-Haas Racing roster in 2014 consisted of Harvick, Kurt Busch, Danica Patrick and Tony Stewart. There were no doubts about the talent. But there were questions about bringing together a group of strong personalities.


In typical Stewart fashion, he looked at the reporter, leaned into the microphone and flatly said, “Do you think we’re crazy now?”

Gene Haas added, sitting more relaxed and leaning back in his chair, “Crazy works.” Haas then smiled and raised his eyebrows.

“Don’t underestimate why we think the way we think is the moral to the story,” Stewart continued. “You guys are pretty smart, but we’re smarter.”

Harvick praised Stewart, Haas and everyone at Stewart-Haas Racing for not being afraid to make bold decisions. A characteristic that Harvick said makes you successful in life.

Throughout its tenure, Stewart-Haas Racing operated that way. It was shown through the talent that came through the door, even if that talent didn’t have money. Josh Berry is one of the recent examples when the organization hired him to replace Kevin Harvick. Noah Gragson was also signed without sponsorship following him because the belief was that partners would want to jump on board after he was hired.

The reputation or keyword, if you will, around Stewart-Haas Racing was about being a bunch of racers. Over time, it became common to hear them refer to themselves as that or to remind people, “We’re a bunch of racers,” and they would figure out any challenge. The group assigned to work in the building or on and around the cars are people who have deep racing roots or bleed for speed.

Crazy worked for Stewart, Haas and Harvick in 2014. Eric Gilbert/Motorsport Images

Stewart-Haas Racing always did things their way. So, in a way, as Stewart and Haas pointed out November 16, 2014, crazy did work. In the 1,892 races the organization has fielded a car, there have been 69 wins and two championships. Add in 294 starts in the Xfinity Series, 22 additional wins and one championship.

But over the last few years, Stewart-Haas Racing has repeatedly starred in silly season rumors. If it wasn’t driver shuffling, then it was changing manufacturers. If it wasn’t mergers with other organizations, it was selling charters.

But now it’s all come to a head with the complete dissolution of the organization. Once a top-tier organization that still has a lot of talented people involved.

Time will tell if Haas or Stewart publicly go into more detail about what led to the decision and how they felt about their time as co-owners. Both have faced criticism recently for not being present at the racetrack. It’s been a lean few seasons in the Cup Series, with four victories since 2021.

“Racing is a labor-intensive, humbling sport,” part of the joint statement said. “It requires unwavering commitment and vast resources, with a 365-day mindset to be better than everyone else. It’s part of what makes success so rewarding. But the commitment needed to extract maximum performance while providing sustainability is incredibly demanding, and we’ve reached a point in our respective personal and business lives where it’s time to pass the torch.”

Stewart-Haas Racing was born from the partnership of Gene Haas and Tony Stewart. On his own, Haas began fielding cars in the Cup Series in late 2002 as Haas CNC Racing. In 2008, Haas and Stewart announced that Stewart-Haas Racing would debut in 2009, with Stewart as one driver and Ryan Newman as the other.

Stewart won four races the first year, and it was off and running since then. The first championship came three years in. There has not been another since Harvick’s 2014 triumph, although there were seasons where it seemed Harvick and Rodney Childers would be at the top of the mountain again.

In its tenure, Stewart-Haas Racing has won the Daytona 500 (2017), three Brickyard 400s (2013, ’19 and ’20), and two Southern 500s at Darlington (2014, ’20). There have been eight different drivers to win for the organization.

Haas is now 71 years old and also owns a Formula 1 team. The 53-year-old Stewart, a three-time Cup Series champion, has a thick portfolio that includes driving for the NHRA team he owns. Stewart and his wife, Leah Pruett, are also trying to start a family.

As it comes to an end, Stewart-Haas Racing doesn’t resemble the powerhouse it once was, which made it an attractive option for drivers, crew members and others. But one thing is sure: those who will see the organization through to the end of its existence will fight for every last position and point — fitting for a place that found success on the backbone of talented, scrappy, and determined people.

Story originally appeared on Racer