Stewart-Haas Racing could look a bit different in 2018
While Kevin Harvick signed an extension with Stewart-Haas Racing last May, and Clint Bowyer is in the first year of his contract, drivers Kurt Busch and Danica Patrick are not locked in for next season.
“Contracts are signed – and expire – at all different times,” Haas said. “It’s hard to say when one person’s contract is going to expire because there are options and things like that. I think that’s why they call it silly season. We kind of start looking at what we want to do. The drivers do the same thing. Sponsors do the same thing.
“In order for all the pieces to fall into place, you have to take all three parties – you’ve got to take the drivers, the owners and the sponsors and see if you can’t align all the stars up and get them to agree on something.”
Haas has no plans of eliminating any of his four Cup squads.
“I think, financially, running four teams makes sense, because with this new charter system we’re paid money to run the cars not only from NASCAR (purses) but with our relationship with Ford,” Haas said.
This season, Haas has subsidized two of his teams with the Haas Automation brand. Bowyer has run the Haas livery in 12 of the first 16 races. Busch, who was recruited by Haas and has carried the sponsor since joining SHR in 2014, split the branding with Monster in 15 races – including the Daytona 500.
Patrick, 35, is still searching for her first top-five finish after five seasons behind the wheel of the #10 Ford.
Busch, 38, has won five races – including the 2017 Daytona 500 – since joining SHR in 2014. He has also qualified for NASCAR’s playoffs each of the four years. Haas didn’t have a timeline for picking up Busch’s option.
“A sponsor, who will remain nameless, typically likes to negotiate in January, so it’s a problem,” Haas said. “You have to wait until…I know a lot of people have these options, but a lot of people don’t like to make a decision until a month after the last possible time you can make a decision.”