What will it take for Stewart-Haas Racing to get going? At this point last year, SHR was about to win for the seventh time of the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season. Not only did they win last year’s June race at the Michigan International Speedway, they’d finish 1-2-3 as well.
Through 15 races, they’d won nearly half of them. But, over the last 35 races, they’ve only reached victory lane just three times, one of this being at Texas last November which was later ruled an L-1 penalty.
BROOKLYN, MI – JUNE 10: Clint Bowyer, driver of the #14 Haas 30 Years of the VF1 Ford, races Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John’s Ford, for the lead during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Speedway on June 10, 2018 in Brooklyn, Michigan. (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)
So, that’s only two legitimate, legal wins over the last 35 Cup races. The last coming at Michigan last August. The only other race that they’ve won since the first Michigan race last year other than the return trip to Michigan last summer was at New Hampshire.
This season, they’re honestly the fourth best team in NASCAR. Joe Gibbs Racing has won nine times in 14 tries. Team Penske has won four times. Hendrick Motorsports has only won once but you can see their getting better and better.
Those are 1-2-3 right now in NASCAR’s premiere series. Last year, SHR was at the top of that list, now they’ve fallen to fourth.
Can they get back going this weekend? This will tell a lot though.
Kevin Harvick has six runner-up finishes and two fifth place runs at Michigan since 2013. He also won the August race last year and finished second in the June event. The only thing with him is, he hasn’t finished better than fourth all season.
Then there’s Clint Bowyer. He won this race last year but that was his only top 10 finish since 2014. He does have seven top 10 finishes though in his last nine starts on the season, so Sunday’s race will tell just how close he really is to the top three organizations.
Aric Almirola could be good with two top 11 finishes last year. But, over the course of this season, Almirola has just two top 10s in his last seven starts and no top fives since early March. Can he get back on track?
Daniel Suarez is in a Ford now and finished 11th with JGR last year. What can he do?
With a road course and superspeedway looming up next, Sunday will be the last real test until we get to Kentucky next month.