Are multi-car teams beginning to suffer?

Are some NASCAR teams expanding too fast and in the end, hurting their overall performance? Joseph Shelton thinks so...

Are multi-car teams beginning to suffer?
Listen to this article

It wasn’t that long ago that NASCAR determined that if an organization was going to survive in NASCAR that they were going to have to have multiples entries week after week.

Powerhouse organizations like Roush-Fenway Racing and Hendrick Motorsports were a testament to the power of multi-car organizations while single-car teams like the now defunct PPI Motorsports and Robby Gordon Motorsports were left to flounder.

Jack Roush
Jack Roush

Photo by: Action Sports Photography

The strongest argument for multi-car teams came in 2005 when all five Roush-Fenway entries made the second annual Chase for the NEXTEL Cup field (now Sprint Cup), where they took up half of the Chase field and gave team owner Jack Roush a 50% chance of winning his third consecutive championship.

Yet, less than decade later it looks as if several multi-car organizations are overstepping their means. Sure, teams like Joe Gibbs Racing and Hendrick Motorsports are doing quite well, with two of the JGR entries already solidly in the Chase for the Sprint Cup field and the third on the verge of victory, while three of the four Hendrick teams have visited Victory Lane this season.

All might seem well on the surface, but look again.

Of the three Gibbs Toyotas, it is Denny Hamlin who has been the underwhelming driver (even without missing Fontana this season he still hasn’t done as well as usual), while on the Hendrick side of things Kasey Kahne just can’t seem to catch a break. Yet, both of those drivers are stellar in comparison to some of the other teams.

Stewart-Haas Racing was once a two-car team that contended for the win every race. As one of the youngest organizations in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, they won the 2011 Sprint Cup championship with Tony Stewart only two years after the Stewart-Haas merger. Former SHR driver Ryan Newman also did well with the team, winning several races including the 2013 Brickyard 400.

Trouble for Danica Patrick, Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet
Trouble for Danica Patrick, Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet

Photo by: Action Sports Photography

But after the inclusion of Danica Patrick in 2013, SHR began to struggle with the added burden of a third car. Newman was never a threat, while rookie Patrick seemed to crumple up her car week after week. As for the team’s co-owner, Tony Stewart, he won once, but only out of luck. Besides that, he's struggled more than he ever has in his career.

Now that SHR has gone from a two-car team to a four-car team, their struggles have seemed to intensify. Stewart still continues to run poorly while Patrick has been just south of mediocre (although she managed a strong showing at Kansas, posting a seventh place finish). Kurt Busch, one of SHR’s newest entries, won at Martinsville but sits back in 28th in points. Only Kevin Harvick has fared well, having won twice this season.

Meanwhile, Swan Racing (formerly Inception Motorsports), was steadily becoming an impressive single-car entry until this season, when adding a second entry became catalyst for the team’s fatal financial struggles. When the team closed its doors, one of the Swan entries became a BK Racing entry, transferring rookie Cole Whitt to the organization as well.

BK Racing is another team who feels that throwing more money at their problems will make them go away. Without the addition of Cole Whitt, BK Racing has had a tough time as an organization despite having some big names as sponsors, such as Burger King, Dr. Pepper and Borla Exhausts. Their only top-10 came at Talladega in 2012, with Travis Kvapil at the helm. One top-10 in 171 total starts doesn’t say a lot about a team.

Alex Bowman, BK Racing Toyota
Alex Bowman, BK Racing Toyota

Photo by: Action Sports Photography

BKR owners Ron Devine and Wayne Press somehow believed that instead of throwing their money towards such necessities as research and development, they would purchase the No. 26 of Whitt. With that being said, it was as if they supposed a third car would increase their shot at a strong finish one of these days instead of spending their money on quality equipment.

The list goes on: Front Row Motorsports, Richard Childress Racing, Roush-Fenway, and so on. A lot of multi-car teams are beginning to struggle by way of living beyond their means. Powerhouse teams have gone from being the norm to fading into the background, and if they want to alleviate their agonies, it would be a good idea to scale back their efforts across the board.

Not all multi-car teams are running badly however. Gibbs and Hendrick are two teams that prove that notion. But if an underfunded team decides to stretch their funds by adding another entry, they will have a hard time. If a mediocre team decides to add another car instead of focusing on building up a team, maybe hoping for one or two top-10s at Daytona or Talladega, they’re going to have a bad time.

If an organization that had success as a smaller team struggles with an extra work-load, they should do the smart thing and lighten that work-load. NASCAR racing is a sink-or-swim sport, and a team cannot struggle for too long if they wish to be around for a long time.

shares
comments
Brett Moffitt prepared to make his Sprint Cup debut at Dover
Previous article

Brett Moffitt prepared to make his Sprint Cup debut at Dover

Next article

Danica off to Dover: Good riddance to Charlotte, hello Delaware

Danica off to Dover: Good riddance to Charlotte, hello Delaware
The ex-F1 driver taking on NASCAR with a new team Prime

The ex-F1 driver taking on NASCAR with a new team

Saddled with uncompetitive Minardi machinery, Tarso Marques didn't manage to score points in his three partial seasons of Formula 1. But now the Brazilian has the chance to show what he can do in NASCAR, and explains the story of his comeback with new Cup Series entrant Team Stange

NASCAR Cup
Apr 13, 2022
The early benefits and challenges of NASCAR's Next Gen car Prime

The early benefits and challenges of NASCAR's Next Gen car

NASCAR’s new stock car generation is encouraging an influx of fresh blood into its top tier. But there are concerns that parts are in short supply as the entire paddock tries to build up stocks at the same time

NASCAR Cup
Feb 22, 2022
How Penske's rookie sensation opened NASCAR's new era in style Prime

How Penske's rookie sensation opened NASCAR's new era in style

After holding his nerve and hip-checking his teammate on the run to the line, Austin Cindric made a perfect start to life as a full-timer in the NASCAR Cup Series by winning the Daytona 500. Here's how the Penske Ford man emerged first across the line in the first points-scoring race for the much-anticipated Next Generation cars

NASCAR Cup
Feb 21, 2022
Six key themes to follow in the 2022 NASCAR Cup season Prime

Six key themes to follow in the 2022 NASCAR Cup season

There are plenty of uncertainties ahead of the 2022 NASCAR Cup season as an all-new fleet of cars take to the track for the first time. Ahead of this weekend's Daytona 500, our experts explain what you need to know

NASCAR Cup
Feb 17, 2022
How NASCAR had to learn a harsh lesson ahead of Next Gen arrival Prime

How NASCAR had to learn a harsh lesson ahead of Next Gen arrival

The NASCAR Cup kicks off with the Daytona 500 this weekend, but a major engine overhaul and a subsequent mountain of work has been required to be ready for the arrival of the Next Gen cars.

NASCAR Cup
Feb 16, 2022
How Larson took the long way round to NASCAR Cup glory Prime

How Larson took the long way round to NASCAR Cup glory

From villain to hero, Kyle Larson had to reach his lifelong goal the hard way and go through a very public shaming after a ban for using a racial slur, but his talents shone long before his name grabbed the headlines...

NASCAR Cup
Nov 10, 2021
How NASCAR is gearing up for its "biggest change" in 2022 Prime

How NASCAR is gearing up for its "biggest change" in 2022

It’s not just Formula 1 that’s set for upheaval in 2022, as the NASCAR Cup series adopts its Next Gen cars that will cast any in-built advantages aside and require teams to adopt a totally new way of operating. Far more than just a change of machinery, the new cars amount to a shift in NASCAR's core philosophy

NASCAR Cup
Oct 12, 2021
Why Bubba Wallace’s Talladega win is such a big moment for NASCAR Prime

Why Bubba Wallace’s Talladega win is such a big moment for NASCAR

Bubba Wallace claimed his maiden NASCAR Cup Series at Talladega on Monday to become the first Black victor in the category since Wendell Scott in 1963. Both Wallace and Scott had faced obstacles and racism in their paths to their breakthrough wins, and NASCAR is trying to put it right with its range of diversity programmes

NASCAR Cup
Oct 5, 2021