Martinsville Proves to Be Stewart-Haas Racing’s Best Overall Performance This Season

nascar cup series noco 400
SHR Performance at Martinsville Best This Season Jared C. Tilton - Getty Images
  • Chase Briscoe scored his second consecutive fifth-place finish.

  • Aric Almirola got his first top-10 of 2023.

  • Kevin Harvick led the race twice and won his first Stage since 2020.

For the first eight races this season, Kevin Harvick carried the Stewart-Haas Racing performance banner, producing three top-five and five top-10 finishes. However, that changed at Martinsville Speedway.

Three of the four SHR drivers led in Sunday’s 400-lap race won by Kyle Larson and two produced top-10 finishes. Chase Briscoe, driving with a broken middle finger on his left hand, produced his second consecutive fifth-place finish, while Aric Almirola recorded his first top-10 this year.


Ryan Preece earned his first Cup pole. Then in the race, he and Briscoe were the top two lap leaders in the NOCO 400. Preece won Stage 1 and led once for 135 laps before a pit road speeding penalty on lap 134 left him deep in the field. He eventually finished 15th, his second top 15 this year and his first since the season’s fourth race at Phoenix.

“I pride myself on not making mistakes, so that was pretty brutal there,” Preece said about the pit road penalty.

Briscoe led twice for 109 laps. After finishing fifth, he joked that maybe he should break another finger since. He broke his finger in a dirt Late Model race the Thursday night before Bristol.

“I felt like a Stewart-Haas car probably should have won the race and we just couldn’t catch the breaks we needed there at the end,” said Briscoe, who was scheduled to receive a rod and screws in his middle finger Monday.

“Track position was obviously super important. It was really hard to pass. Even if you were better than a guy, they could just kind of hang on. It seemed like tires, it took them 50-60 laps for them to fall off even if you had older tires.”

Briscoe said he thought the race was five to 10 percent better than last year, but “there’s still a really long way to go.”

nascar cup series noco 400
Kevin Harvick led twice for 20 laps Sunday. Jared C. Tilton - Getty Images

“I did think in the driver’s seat you made a little bit more of a difference,” Briscoe said. “The problem is when you can downshift and things like that, these cars have so much forward drive and, obviously, not a lot of power coming off the corner, so everybody is kind of the same speed. It’s unfortunate.”

After Almirola finished sixth, he noted it was “crazy that Martinsville is a track position race.”

“I thought we were arguably the best car the first part of the race and then we got a little bit behind as the track changed and the car changed a little bit,” Almirola said.

Harvick led twice for 20 laps before a wheel issue relegated him to a 20th-place finish. When Harvick pitted on lap 345 during the fifth caution period he received his last set of new tires. Upon his return to the track, the right-front wheel rim broke on his Ford and caused a flat. When he pitted again, his crew had to put a scuffed tire on his car that he had used in qualifying. Sunday’s finish was Harvick’s worst since Atlanta when he was involved in a crash.