2013 AdvoCare 500: Danica Patrick not concerned about discord at Stewart-Haas
By all appearances, Stewart-Haas Racing had the look of an organization divided during Tuesday's press conference to announce the signing of Kurt Busch.
It was easy to think this as team co-owner Gene Haas detailed how he pursued Busch without the knowledge of his partner, Tony Stewart, who since joining SHR in 2009 had largely been responsible for personnel decisions.
But with Stewart incapacitated with a broken leg sustained in a Sprint car accident, and with the opportunity present to sign the 2004 Cup champion, Haas took it upon himself to court Busch. In doing so, SHR will have to enlarge its facilities to accommodate a fourth car. And because Stewart was initially against expansion, it wasn't far-fetched to envision a rift developing between the two principles.
However, that perception isn't reality according to one of the team's drivers.
"Obviously, Gene was in a position year's back where he was the team owner and had drivers," Danica Patrick said Friday at Atlanta Motor Speedway. "Then, obviously the Tony equation came in where he becomes a partner and I think (Haas) got excited about wanted to kind of have his own driver again.
Busch will be sponsored by Haas' tool company and will join Patrick, Stewart and Kevin Harvick, who arrives next season from Richard Childress Racing, to form a formidable four-car team. And the addition of another driver and all that goes with it is welcome news to Patrick.
"I think the best part about having more drivers is one we are going to start hiring people," she said. "We are going to get some fresh ideas and perspectives in. We are just going to have more brain power. There are going to be more crew chiefs, more engineers, more of everything and then when you have a line-up like we do there is a lot of experience there.
"I feel like it's going to help our team from top to bottom."
One issue SHR will face immediately is how to bring together four personalities who have never been hesitant to vocalize their opinion. Competition director Greg Zipadelli joked on Tuesday the first thing the team is doing is building a rubber room to conduct team meetings.
Patrick isn't concerned, citing the cordial relationship she has with Busch and feels any potential obstacles are negated by what he brings to the team.
"Kurt is a great driver, very fast and I've always gotten along with him," Patrick said. "I feel like we are going to have a pretty fun team.
"... I'm all about bringing great drivers into the team. It's good for everybody, especially good for me."
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