During Thursday’s Championship Media Day at the Diplomat Hotel & Spa in Hollywood, Fla., Stewart-Haas Racing co-owner/driver Tony Stewart was asked about his team and what they are planning on doing to right the ship, and though he did not offer any specifics, it is safe to assume that Stewart wants his team to be back up toward the front for his farewell season in 2016.
“Yeah, I think you’ll have that answer soon enough. But there’s going to be a lot of change,” Stewart said during a breakout session. “It’s not like we were a 15th-place car all year. We haven’t been even close to that, unfortunately. There’s going to have to be a lot of changes. The hard part is when you get back where we’re at right now, it’s hard to sit there and say exactly what you need, because if it was that easy, you’d have fixed it by now, which makes it even more difficult to sit here and to be honest and tell you what we know needs to be changed. That’s the hard part is trying to find those variables that we need to work through to get better next year.”
The changes will likely not be limited to just Stewart’s No. 14. During the media session, Stewart indicated that the No. 10 team for Danica Patrick needs to show improvement as well. It is unclear what these changes will ultimately mean for the organization; it could mean a number of high-profile members of the team are replaced, and it could mean a simple shuffling of personnel between the shop and road teams.
For Stewart, the 2015 season has been the worst of his Sprint Cup career by almost any measure. The former champion is 28th in points with only three top-10 finishes. He has already clinched a career-low in top fives (zero), top-10 finishes and average finish, while he’s also on track to at least equal the lowest number of lead-lap finishes in his career. He is also on pace for the fewest number of laps led (currently 24) in any season.
However, not everything is bad for Stewart. He is looking forward to the upcoming rules package that debuts at Atlanta in February.
“[The new rules package is] definitely not going to hurt us,” Stewart stated. “It definitely suits my driving style better than this era of taking horsepower away and adding downforce. I think we established at Michigan and Indianapolis that that package was a total disaster. Hopefully this will be better.”