Two big names in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series now have questions surrounding their futures in the sport.
Stewart-Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas recently told Motorsport.com that his team again will run four cars in 2018, though it isn’t clear if Kurt Busch and Danica Patrick will be behind the wheel of two of them.
Although some teams, such as Roush Fenway Racing, have scaled back in recent years, Haas doesn’t feel that would make sense for SHR. Due to NASCAR’s current business model, teams not only get revenue from the sport, but also from manufacturers and sponsors, so Haas said running fewer cars would be a missed opportunity.
“So, to say, ‘If we don’t have a sponsor, does that mean we shouldn’t run?’ No, that means we’d lose the money from the other sources,” Haas told Motorsport.com. “I think it’s kind of a business decision. If you can get money from all the sources, you can actually make a little money from this. If one of them drops out, you just might have to wait for a year or so until you line up another one.
“It would be foolish to drop a team, because then we would lose money from the manufacturer and NASCAR, which is a substantial amount of money.”
Haas’ philosophy is something SHR already has been practicing for a while with his company, Haas Automation, sponsoring Clint Bowyer and Busch for a total of 27 races this year. Though the latter ran a paint scheme that shared the sponsorship with Monster Energy in 15 of those.
Because Busch has long been a Monster-sponsored athlete, and the beverage company now sponsors all of Cup, he likely will be back with the team in 2018. But Haas said negotiations with Busch won’t happen for a while because of one of the driver’s backers.
“A sponsor, who will remain nameless, typically likes to negotiate in January, so it’s a problem,” Haas said, via Motorsport.com. ” … 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.”
Patrick’s future seems far less certain, though, based on another comment Haas reportedly made.
“If we can have a driver that wins races — and with a reasonable sponsor — all the teams can be profitable,” Haas said. “And that’s what we’re here for is to try to make a little money at this.”
The 35-year-old Patrick is still chasing her first Cup win, and one of her main sponsors, Nature’s Bakery, gave SHR a major headache ahead of this season.
Thumbnail photo via Mike DiNovo/USA TODAY Sports Images