There has been a discrepancy between the two Stewart-Haas Racing owners regarding their choice of drivers for the team.
It is rumoured that Tony Stewart wants to bring in Ryan Preece to the team instead of Cole Custer while Gene Haas prefers to give Custer another year to prove himself.
#NASCAR: Gene Haas on pre-race grid says he’d like to give Cole Custer another year to prove himself but Tony Stewart prefers Ryan Preece and they’ve got to carefully consider who they put in car because he anticipates losing Harvick and Almirola at end of 2023.
— Jenna Fryer (@JennaFryer) October 16, 2022
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While it is up to the owners to decide on their drivers’ lineup, it could prove bad for the drivers themselves to be in the dark about their owners’ decisions. Speaking about the potential effect on the drivers, Dale Jr said:
“Gene Haas once quoted, ‘Cole Custer to have another year to prove himself.’ And that Tony Stewart wants Ryan Preece in that car… I wonder how that goes, I don’t want to piss Jenna (Fryer) off so, does Jenna say to Gene, ‘hey Gene could I use this on the record, is this on the record’. That you are telling me that Tony Stewart wants Preece and you want…
“So Gene knew that he was telling Jenna to publicly go and say that Tony Stewart wants Preece and Custer would hear this?… Custer would read and this not today, Custer is walking around in his house going, ‘frickin’ Tony Stewart wants Ryan Preece instead of me?’ ”
While Custer may not have lived up to their owners’ expectations, he did help his teammate Chase Briscoe advance to the next round of playoffs by holding off drivers behind him.
However, replacing Custer right now brings additional troubles as it seems like SHR will be without both Kevin Harvick and Aric Almirola after the 2023 season. It is widely reported that Harvick is set to retire after the 2023 season.