Kurt Busch won his first Daytona 500 last weekend, and he and his Stewart-Haas Racing teammates impressed throughout the race in their first official competition since switching to Ford.
The Daytona 500 officially kicked off the 2017 Monster Cup NASCAR Cup Series season last weekend. While many cars didn’t finish the race due to multiple major crashes, Kurt Busch made history by winning his first Daytona 500. It was also the first time Stewart-Haas Racing came away victorious at the Great American Race. In the offseason, Stewart-Haas Racing made the decision to switch to Ford cars, and the move appears to have already paid off.
While Busch only led for the last lap of the race, Stewart-Haas Racing’s entire roster was competitive throughout the Daytona 500. Danica Patrick, who has a history of doing well at Daytona International Speedway — especially during the season-opening race — finished 11th after Stage 1 and fifth during Stage 2. Her luck didn’t last, though, as she was one of the victims of the many Daytona 500 crashes.
Due to the new five-minute rule and regulations related to damaged cars now in place, Patrick headed to the garage and ended her Daytona 500 early. It didn’t end how she or the Stewart-Haas Racing team wanted it to go. However, Patrick’s performance was especially impressive. There weren’t many signs of rustiness, and she looked like she was in mid-season form.
The third driver of the Stewart-Haas Racing team, Kevin Harvick, also showed what the new Ford cars can do this year. He won the second stage and came in second in Stage 1. Harvick earned 19 points as a result of his stage performances alone and has 42 total points.
Harvick finished in 22nd place overall but his finish wasn’t indicative of how he raced during the entire event. He was involved in a crash at some point but the damage wasn’t serious enough to keep him out of the race for good.
Overall, Harvick sits in fourth place in the standings with 42 points. He is only two points out of second and one point out of third. The standings are very close between positions, especially in the first 10 spots. As shown by Harvick’s performance at Daytona, winning stage points make a difference. He also has one playoff point for winning Stage 2.
Stewart-Haas Racing laid a solid foundation to its 2017 Monster Cup Energy season. Busch sits in first, Harvick’s in third and Patrick has shown that she can compete against the top drivers. The common factor in the team’s successes so far is the Ford car. Tony Stewart and company made a wise decision to switch to Ford cars. The team was competitive throughout the Daytona 500, and that shouldn’t change as the action shifts to Atlanta Motor Speedway this weekend.