Stewart-Haas Racing enters the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season looking to return to championship form.
The four-car stable is again led by 2014 champion Kevin Harvick, who will be joined by last year's Daytona 500 winner Kurt Busch, Clint Bowyer and newcomer Aric Almirola, who takes the No. 10 ride for the departed Danica Patrick.
The modified driver line-up has been augmented by a shuffle in crew chiefs. While Harvick remains with Rodney Childers and Bowyer stays paired with Mike Bugarewicz, there's a new look to the other two entries. Busch inherits Billy Scott, who steps in for veteran Tony Gibson while Almirola has SHR engineer Johnny Klausmeier guiding his team.
"We have some of the finest talent in the industry and we're confident in the leadership of each of our teams as we pursue wins and a championship in 2018," said Stewart, co-owner of SHR with Gene Haas. "Obviously, we're very happy to have Kurt Busch back with SHR and I'm proud to have Aric Almirola as a part of our race team. He's someone I've always been impressed with since we were teammates at Joe Gibbs Racing, and John Klausmeier is more than ready to be his crew chief.
"The partnership between Kevin Harvick and Rodney Childers is the best in the garage, and after a bunch of strong runs and second-place finishes, I think Clint Bowyer and Mike Bugarewicz are ready for a breakout year. We're in a really good place with each of our race teams."
Harvick made it to last year's Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway but came up short in his bid for a second title. However his team returns intact and Harvick has high expectations for being competitive again in 2018.
"We have what it takes here to win no question," Harvick said. "We need to find some more speed at certain places but I think most every team outside maybe the 78 (Martin Truex Jr.) feels the same way. I'm confident this team has what it takes to run upfront, win races and contend for the title in 2018."
Busch signed a one year contract extension to come back to SHR's No. 41 Ford and will once again carry Monster Energy as a major sponsor in 2018. The veteran remains confident in both his ability as well as his team's support to compete at a high level this coming season.
"Having my hard work pay off by winning the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup and the 2017 Daytona 500 has given me the drive to continue conquering the NASCAR world," Busch said. "I am excited to enter the 2018 racing season as a Monster Energy athlete where I will continue to drive for my favorite manufacturer, the Ford Motor Company.
"Knowing that SHR is committed to optimum performance, I believe that I have everything I need to win races this season and take home the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup. I look forward to taking on next year with my team, sponsors and determination."
Speaking of determination, Bowyer has plenty of it as he embarks on season two with SHR. The veteran did run well last year and showed improvement over the course of the campaign. But Bowyer has his sights set on winning in 2018 and grabbing a playoff berth to compete for the championship.