NASCAR Team Stewart-Haas Racing Hits 1,000-Start Mark

The quartet of Kurt Busch, Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer, and Aric Almirola get their team to the milestone at Texas Motor Speedway.

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series STP 500
Sarah Crabill—Getty Images

When Aric Almirola takes the green flag for the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday, he’ll mark the 1,000th series start for Stewart-Haas Racing. The race team heads into this weekend's race with 996 starts to its credit, but with four cars in Sunday’s race, the lowest qualifying of those four being the No. 10 of Almirola, starts the race, the 1,000 mark will be reached. Almirola’s teammates, Kurt Busch, Kevin Harvick and Clint Bowyer, are slated to start in the top-three positions.

“A thousand starts is a sign of longevity, and that’s an accomplishment,” Stewart-Haas Racing Competition Director Greg Zipadelli said in a press release announcing the milestone. “It helps in keeping good people and recruiting good people.”

The formation of Stewart-Haas Racing was announced in 2008 when team co-owner Tony Stewart announced his departure from Joe Gibbs Racing at season’s end to partner with Gene Haas, already a Cup Series car owner, to form SHR from the lackluster-performing Haas Racing. The partnership of Stewart and Haas came as the result of a recommendation by another team owner, Rick Hendrick. The newly-formed Stewart-Haas Racing debuted at the start of the 2009 season with a strong technical alliance with Hendrick Motorsports.

The new team, first a two-car operation with co-owner Stewart and fellow-Indiana driver Ryan Newman, experienced success early, with Stewart winning four races in the first season of operation; he claimed SHR’s first at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. A couple of years later in 2011, Stewart won the first championship for Stewart-Haas. It was his third NASCAR championship as a driver, but his first as a car owner.

Newman departed the team after the 2013 season, and Stewart retired from full-time competition as a driver at the end of 2016. Danica Patrick also drove for Stewart-Haas Racing until declaring her retirement from full-time NASCAR competition at the end of last year, making way for the team’s current roster of drivers—Busch, Harvick, Bowye,r and Almirola. Almirola is in his first year at SHR, while Bowyer is in year two after stepping in for the retired Stewart. Busch and Harvick both joined Stewart-Haas in 2014, the year the organization expanded to a four-car team.

Also, simultaneous to Stewart’s departure and Bowyer’s arrival at the start of the 2017 season was a switch to Ford, ending the alliance with Hendrick Motorsports, but SHR hasn’t missed a beat. As a matter-of-fact, Stewart-Haas Racing has been tops in the first six races of the 2018 season, with Harvick and Bowyer combining to win four of the first six races. Those four wins include three-straight for Harvick in the first four races.

“Make no mistake; all four Stewart-Haas cars have been good all year long,” Bowyer said after winning the most recent race on the Cup Series schedule, the March 26 snow-delayed race at Martinsville Speedway in Virginia.

Stewart-Haas’ four wins, so far, in 2018 brought SHR’s wins tally to 43. The team also has two championships, with Harvick adding the second in his first year with the team.