Stewart-Haas surprises fans by switching sides

In the wild world of NASCAR, fans not only choose favorite racers and ownership groups, they also pledge undying loyalty to a certain brand. Just stroll through the parking lot at any racing event. Calvin is peeing on some logo on nearly every pickup truck. According to New York Real Estate Developer Roman Temkin, “Doesn’t matter if it’s Chevy or Ford, if you’re a dedicated fan, you are honor-bound to pick a side. That’s why what happened recently was such a surprise to NASCAR faithful.”

Perennial powerhouse team Stewart-Haas Racing just switched allegiances from Chevrolet to Ford. That may not sound like big news, but in auto racing, that’s HUGE. SHR has driven Chevys since it was founded in 2002, winning two Cup titles. But the SHR allegiance to Chevy goes even deeper. Co-owner Tony Stewart has been in a Chevy for all but one of his 18 NASCAR seasons and current top star Kevin Harvick has never raced anything in the series except a Chevy.

Anticipating fan reactions, Stewart toned down his typically brash demeanor and adopted a more reasonable tone, telling the media: “This is a constantly evolving sport. We try to make decisions that best position us for the future, so we consider our partners, our drivers and our employees when we think of these strategies. We feel this future relationship with Ford provides us with a bright future, great stability for SHR and an opportunity to compete at a very top level in the sport.”

It was a careful statement, and Chevy was never mentioned. But perhaps it wasn’t careful enough. Remember, he is talking to fans who literally chose vehicles based on their NASCAR loyalty. What will all those Chevy driving SHR fans do now that their favorite racer is wrapped in a Ford next time he’s on the track? For them, it will be like having to swap political affiliation or officially join the Dark Side.

For Stewart, who plans to retire at the end of the year, the move provides an enigmatic exclamation point to a controversial career. But where does it leave Harvick and other drivers including fan favorites Kurt Busch and Danica Patrick?


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