The NASCAR silly season is well underway and no team has had more uncertainty around it than Stewart-Haas Racing. The four car operation has seen just one team win in 2019 — Kevin Harvick’s No. 4.
Clint Bowyer remains in the playoff field, advancing to the round of 12. Aric Almirola has already been eliminated, while Daniel Suarez failed to make the cut in his first season with the team.
Kevin Harvick was the only driver with a solidified future entering the season.
As the summer marched on and top prospect Cole Custer kept winning in the Xfinity Series, rumors began to pop up about potential changes within the team. On Thursday morning, Stewart-Haas put one of those rumors to bed.
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) October 10, 2019
Aric Almirola and top sponsor Smithfield will return to Stewart-Haas Racing in 2020. It will be Almirola’s third season with the team, which has resulted in one win and two playoff berths so far.
With two seats set for next season, Clint Bowyer and Daniel Suarez are now the focus. Per Adam Stern, Bowyer is likely to resign with the team. As for Suarez, negotiations are still ongoing.
➖SHR has been working toward a renewal with @Daniel_SuarezG, but it is contingent on finalizing sponsorship.
— Adam Stern (@A_S12) October 10, 2019
As everyone suspects, Stern reports that Custer is waiting in the wings should a deal fall through with either Bowyer or Suarez.
Custer just wrapped up his seventh Xfinity Series win of the year, capturing the checkered flag a Dover last Saturday. He’s in the thick of a title battle with Christopher Bell and Tyler Reddick, who each will move up to the Cup Series in 2020.
Rumors have pointed to a Cup satellite operation as being a potential home for Custer in 2020 if Suarez and Bowyer return. Custer has made a couple of starts for Rick Ware Racing in the past. GoFas Racing has been the target of that speculation this season, but there hasn’t been much movement on that front lately. Corey Lajoie ran their No. 32 entry this season.
A return to the Xfinity Series for Custer in 2020 would likely prove to be dominant with both Bell and Reddick graduating after the season. Custer is plenty ready to make the move, but might fall victim to a lack of a seat.