Stewart’s team braces for 2013

Season hinges on how members are prepared amid uncertainty

The Charlotte ObserverJanuary 22, 2013 

  • EFLAND ANNOUNCES NATIONWIDE PLANS Irmo native and USC alumnus Danny Efland announced his return to JD Motorsports with Gary Keller as driver for 27 Nationwide Series races in the No. 4 Chevrolet for 2013. Efland raced 17 events for the Johnny Davis-owned team as Mike Wallace’s teammate in 2012. Efland ended 21st in the driver standings, with five top-20 finishes. From Staff Reports

— The 2013 Sprint Cup Series season for Stewart-Haas Racing will feature some old, some new — and some uncertainty.

Two years removed from its first series championship won by team co-owner Tony Stewart, SHR faces one of its most challenging seasons ahead.

Stewart and crew chief Steve Addington begin their second season working together, but that’s as far as the familiar goes.

Ryan Newman returns to the No. 39 Chevrolet but with a new pit crew and new crew chief, Matt Borland, who served as Newman’s chief when both worked at Penske Racing.

Former IndyCar Series fan favorite Danica Patrick begins her first fulltime season in the Cup series after struggling through much of her 10-race schedule in 2012.

Add to that the prospect of having to secure roughly 20 races of primary sponsorship among the three teams, and SHR will have a lot on its plate in the coming year.

“There has been a lot of added cost this year to owners and a lot of parts are a lot more expensive than in the past,” said Stewart when asked about the financial climate of owners in NASCAR’s biggest series.

“Racers are very resourceful and we will find a way to make it work.”

By no means is Stewart down on his organization’s prospects in 2013.

“These guys have done a great job of getting ready this year and I’m proud of the effort they’ve put forth to get prepared for Daytona,” Stewart said Monday during the first day of the Sprint NASCAR Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway.

“We got to run the Charlotte test last week, and if these cars race as good as they drive it’s going to be an awesome year.”

With limited sponsorship commitments, SHR offered Newman a one-year contract extension last year.

Would he have preferred not to have to go through the contract process again this season?

“Absolutely, wouldn’t you?” Newman said. “It doesn’t affect the way I drive the car. It will affect some of the things during the week between driving the car.

“The way things worked out, it’s not ideal, but I still have a job and I still make a good bit of money.”

Newman said the idea to team back up with Borland came from SHR’s competition director, Greg Zipadelli, after Newman’s former crew chief, Tony Gibson, was assigned to Patrick.

“I don’t know how many drivers and crew chiefs separated and came back together. I don’t think many,” Newman said.

“It takes a pretty good man to come back and accept your faults and then go back at it. I’m excited because of all the things we did together and what we learned from what we didn’t do right.”

Patrick seemed to gel quickly with Gibson when the two were paired at the end of 2012.

“More than anything, I was pleased with how fast the car was at Daytona (testing). Tony Gibson and the guys did a good job on working on the car over the winter,” Patrick said.

“I think the better platform we have to push hard to race close together, the better show we’ll be able to put on for the fans.”

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