Editor’s Note: Today’s Stewart-Haas Racing preview continues NASCAR.com’s countdown of team previews for the 2024 Cup Series season.
Engine: Roush Yates Engines
Driver-crew chief pairings: Josh Berry-Rodney Childers (No. 4), Noah Gragson-Drew Blickensderfer (No. 10), Chase Briscoe-Richard Boswell (No. 14), Ryan Preece-Chad Johnston (No. 41)
Team outlook: Mark this year’s campaign as a pivotal one for the four-driver Cup Series roster at SHR, which enters its post-Kevin Harvick era with improvement-minded aspirations after a winless 2023. Two new drivers – short-track standout Josh Berry and sophomore Noah Gragson – take on fresh opportunities by replacing future Hall of Famer Harvick and departed veteran Aric Almirola, while returning drivers Chase Briscoe and Ryan Preece aim to shake off last year’s funk. Ford teams will tackle the track with a new Mustang Dark Horse body that could provide a performance boost, but Stewart-Haas’ Cup Series group will need to capitalize on its glimpses of late-season momentum and replicate the upswing that its Xfinity Series operation had last year to re-establish its typically competitive ways.
JOSH BERRY, NO. 4 FORD
Experience: 12 starts in two partial seasons in the NASCAR Cup Series
2023 stats: 11th in final Xfinity Series standings; 0 wins, 11 top fives, 18 top 10s
2024 championship odds (DraftKings): 60-1
Outlook: Berry gets the nod for NASCAR’s big leagues this season after making the most of his recent opportunities – from his five Xfinity Series wins to capably filling in for the injured Chase Elliott and Alex Bowman after a Cup call-up last season by Hendrick Motorsports. Succeeding Harvick’s legendary tenure in the No. 4 Mustang will be a heady assignment for the 33-year-old Tennessean, who earned his big break to Xfinity in 2021. But Berry will be paired with a veteran crew chief cut from the same fabric in Rodney Childers, who was Harvick’s partner for the last 10 years with SHR. As with most Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidates, Berry’s learning curve should be steep, but his years of experience as a Late Model racer should help him find his bearing in his first full year in Cup – especially when the schedule shifts to the short tracks as springtime nears.
NOAH GRAGSON, NO. 10 FORD
Experience: 39 starts in two partial seasons in the NASCAR Cup Series
2023 stats: 33rd in final Cup Series standings; 0 wins, 0 top fives, 0 top 10s
2024 championship odds (DraftKings): 100-1
Outlook: Gragson returns to NASCAR’s top series after a behavioral suspension for his social-media actions halted what was supposed to be his first full Cup Series season. His 21 races to that midsummer point were an uneven affair, with both the Las Vegas native and the Legacy Motor Club team he drove for struggling to make any headway. Gragson takes over for Aric Almirola in the No. 10 ride, which landed a subpar 22nd in the Cup Series owner standings last year with two pole positions – both on superspeedway-style tracks. Gragson proved he can win in the Xfinity Series, notching 13 wins in his final three seasons with JR Motorsports. Finding that same success and reaching a level of personal and professional balance with SHR is a question mark in need of an answer.
CHASE BRISCOE, NO. 14 FORD
Experience: Three full-time seasons in the NASCAR Cup Series
2023 stats: 30th in final Cup Series standings; 0 wins, 4 top fives, 8 top 10s
2024 championship odds (DraftKings): 70-1
Outlook: Briscoe holds some of the same credentials as car owner Tony Stewart, as a tried-and-true Hoosier native driving the team’s No. 14 Ford. But the 29-year-old driver is also suddenly SHR’s longest-tenured driver, and he’s said he’s ready to assume a more prominent leadership role with the organization as he preps for his fourth Cup Series season. Both Harvick and Almirola have said that Briscoe has the capability to take on that mantle. As for last season, Briscoe’s performance was second only to Harvick within the Stewart-Haas group, and his 30th-place result in the final Cup Series standings was partially owed to a 120-point penalty for a technical violation last May. He’s currently the only SHR driver with a Cup Series win in his career column, and his leadership push would get a significant lift by adding more.
RYAN PREECE, NO. 41 FORD
Experience: Four full-time seasons, plus two partial seasons in the NASCAR Cup Series
2023 stats: 23rd in final Cup Series standings; 0 wins, 1 top five, 2 top 10s
2024 championship odds (DraftKings): 150-1
Outlook: Ryan Preece’s toughness is unquestioned after he strapped right back in after a harrowing crash last summer at Daytona. Otherwise, the story of last season for the 33-year-old was a difficult on-track tale, with his best highlight at Martinsville, where he won his first Cup Series pole, his first Cup Series stage and led 135 laps before a pit-road speeding penalty derailed his day. Preece and the No. 41 team made modest gains during the final half of the season, his first with SHR, and the slight uptick is something to build on for 2024.
RELATED: Preece undeterred after Daytona flip
BOLD PREDICTION: Stewart-Haas Racing will return to Victory Lane in 2024, putting two cars in the Cup Series Playoffs. In past years, this expectation would be a relatively low bar to clear for a team that has fielded cars for two Cup Series champions (Stewart in 2011 and Harvick in 2014) since its inception 16 years ago. That speaks, however, to just how rocky a year last season was for the Stewart-Haas operation. Which two drivers will lead the way back to the postseason? The door is wide open for any of the four to fill the veteran void. Here’s a hunch that Briscoe fulfills his ambitions, with a toss-up for the remaining spot.
NASCAR.com 2024 team previews schedule
Jan. 15: Legacy Motor Club
Jan. 16: Spire Motorsports
Jan. 17: Kaulig Racing
Jan. 18: Wood Brothers Racing
Jan. 22: Rick Ware Racing
Jan. 23: Richard Childress Racing
Jan. 24: Stewart-Haas Racing
Jan. 25: Front Row Motorsports
Jan. 26: JTG Daugherty Racing
Jan. 29: Trackhouse Racing
Jan. 30: RFK Racing
Feb. 6: 23XI Racing
Feb. 7: Joe Gibbs Racing
Feb. 8: Hendrick Motorsports
Feb. 9: Team Penske