Tom Pennington | Getty Images
Tom Pennington | Getty Images

Zipadelli foresees keeping SHR’s four-driver lineup intact for 2021 Cup Series

Greg Zipadelli, Stewart-Haas Racing’s vice president of competition, said Monday he anticipates keeping the organization’s four-driver roster intact for the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season.

SHR currently fields cars for regular-season champion Kevin Harvick, Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender Cole Custer, Aric Almirola and Clint Bowyer — all of whom qualified for the 16-driver playoff field. The contracts for Almirola and Bowyer have been reported to be up after this season.

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“Where we are is kind of one of those things that we kind of keep our laundry in-house, working on them,” Zipadelli said, opting not to delve into specifics about negotiations. “Yes, I do anticipate and (am) excited to hopefully have the same lineup that we do this year back. I know one is very close to done, and we’re working on the other one. I think our guys, our drivers really work well together this year and lean on each other. They’ve all helped Cole a bunch and proud of everybody for that. They’ve showed up ready to race on Sundays and that’s all we can ask.”

Harvick leads the Cup Series with seven victories so far this year and is signed through 2023. Close business relationships and sponsor ties make it more likely Custer and Almirola would return to SHR next season. Though Bowyer has explored broadcasting opportunities this season, he indicated in a July 20 teleconference his intent was to return to SHR’s No. 14 Ford next year.

Stewart-Haas also has a growing talent in 25-year-old Chase Briscoe, who leads the Xfinity Series with six victories this season. Zipadelli said he was hopeful Briscoe would remain in the fold, and a move to the Cup Series either next year or in 2022 — with either SHR’s lineup or with an affiliated team — was among the options.

“I would say he’s right at that point, whether it’s next year or the year after,” Zipadelli said. “I don’t think it would hurt him to run another year of Xfinity. I don’t know, kind of dependent on how the schedules and what the races are whether it helps him a bunch or not, but right now, we’re trying to weigh out all those options.”

Stewart-Haas Racing has a limited technical alliance with Go Fas Racing, which currently has a vacancy for its No. 32 Ford for the 2021 season. Asked whether Briscoe could fit with Go Fas as a replacement for Corey LaJoie, Zipadelli didn’t rule such a move out.

“I think there are opportunities for all of that,” Zipadelli said. “We haven’t really talked much about going down that road. I think we’re just kind of waiting to see how everything pans out and then we’ll make the decisions which we feel is best for our organization and our drivers.”