Tony Stewart paints a rosy picture for Stewart-Haas Racing’s 2022 results, but the numbers tell a different story
Tony Stewart will be the first to admit that 2021 at Stewart-Haas Racing has been a bad year. He said so in a recent video posted on the team’s Twitter account. He also spoke about his thoughts on the new Next Gen car and his team’s performance. However, during the three-minute video, the three-time Cup Series champion made a statement that was not accurate. The numbers don’t lie.
Tony Stewart paints a rosy picture for the 2022 SHR season
Last season, Tony Stewart was extremely candid about the struggles of the SHR team, even admitting, “we definitely have a problem in our organization”.
Things definitely changed this year when Chase Briscoe, who was a rookie a year ago, warned the rest of the Cup Series garage that SHR might not be back, but he was good enough. to fight and win, which he did in the fourth race of the season at Phoenix.
“Last year was not a year that Stewart-Haas Racing is used to having,” the Hall of Famer admitted in the video. “But with the new car, you have the option to advance early or fall behind early. I think we were kind of in the middle of that, and we’re making progress and moving forward now. Trying to knowing what these new cars like and dislike is the big challenge.
“I keep seeing progress every week, so I feel like I’m happy with the progress. It’s hard to know when you start the season where you’re going to be, especially with a new car like this. Once you’ve started what you want to see progress and progress and move towards the front of the pack, and I feel like we’re constantly moving in that direction and it’s not just one or two of the cars. cars move in that direction together.
The numbers don’t lie
Stewart would have been nice had he ended with, “I feel like we’re constantly going in this direction.” But he did not do it. He suggested that all cars improve. However, the numbers tell a different story.
Chase Briscoe and Aric Almirola are undeniably trending better than last year. Briscoe has three top 10 finishes, including his victory. Last season he had three top 10s all year.
Almirola also showed considerable improvement a third into the season. Last year, in a dozen races, the No. 10 car had only one top 10 finish. This year, that number is four, including a top 5 finish at Daytona to open the season.
The same cannot be said for Kevin Harvick and Cole Custer. Harvick has scored nine top 10s, including four top 5s over a dozen races in 2021. So far this year he has won six top 10s, including a pair of top 5s. He has also recorded a pair of DNFs in 2022 He had that same number all last year.
Of all the pilots who prove Stewart’s statement to be inaccurate, it’s Cole Custer. The #41 car didn’t get a single top 10 this year compared to one a year ago. However, more worryingly, through 12 runs, Custer has four DNFs. He had three in 2021.
Tony Stewart knows hard work is the key to success
Tony Stewart is tasked with a lot as co-owner of SHR. Being a cheerleader is one of them. He has a unique perspective as a former pilot and knows from first hand experience the importance of pumping up pilots and encouraging them to fight through whatever adversity they may face. They had plenty last year.
In that same video, he said that with the new car, everything is constantly evolving and teams are finding different ways to improve the car at a rapid pace. Teams that are not consistently on top will fall behind.
“You can win five races in a row, but what you have won’t be good enough in two weeks,” he said. “So we emphasize and emphasize to these guys that we always have to keep pushing forward even when we feel like we’ve figured something out and got it right, we always have to keep pushing forward and keep pushing to look for the next one. best thing.
With that kind of mentality, there’s no reason to believe Briscoe’s win will be his last at SHR in 2022. Most pundits think Harvick is long overdue. But, as we’ve all seen this season, the Next Gen car was a game-changer. Everyone started with a clean slate. As Stewart said, some are further along in the process than others. And that’s not just true for organizations, but also for the individual drivers within those teams.
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