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Stewart-Haas: Crazy Works

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By Matt Weaver (HOMESTEAD, Fla.) — It wasn’t that long ago that we believed both Tony Stewart and Gene Haas were certifiably crazy.

The notion dates back to August when the Stewart Haas Racing co-owners added both Kurt Busch and Kevin Harvick to an already charismatic stable of drivers that consisted of Stewart and Danica Patrick. From the outside looking in, it appeared as if Stewart and Haas had assembled the most combustible and cantankerous roster in the history of the sport, leading many observers to call the pair insane.

After winning six races between the new additions and the Sprint Cup trophy with Harvick on Sunday, maybe that assumption needs readdressing.

“Do you think we’re crazy now,” Stewart retorted with a laugh when asked about the countless remarks tossed his direction during the off-season concerning the apparent insanity of hiring drivers with the reputation of both Busch and Harvick.

“Crazy works,” Haas added.

After a very successful first season together, the results more than speak for themselves and no one is going to call them crazy now — at least not while they are drinking Budweiser and celebrating around twin trophies in South Beach.

Despite their respective pedigrees, Busch and Harvick were unconventional and risky hires. Busch, the 2004 Chase champion, had been fired by both Jack Roush and Roger Penske didn’t have the look of a team player. Harvick was a veteran with 23 victories but had a maverick reputation that was a potential risk for conflict with Busch and Patrick.

But Harvick believes that success is often preceded by bold decisions and Stewart-Haas Racing used one on him, resulting in an immediate championship together.

“Those guys here, they’re not scared to make bold decisions,” Harvick said. “Sometimes they work out and sometimes they don’t. But in the end, somebody has to make a decision, and when you have guys that are not scared to step up and say this is what we’re going to do.

“Sometimes you get to have the moments where you shine — and sometimes you have to eat a little crow — but that’s part of life.”

For Stewart, the winner of three driver championships and 48 career victories, Sunday was an I told you so moment, sticking it to the doubters, that for some reason, questioned his approach in the face of all logic. He said that while the media is pretty smart, he and his team are smarter and should never be underestimated.

“You’ve got to be a little bit crazy to want to do this,” Stewart said. “The odds say you’re going to be unsuccessful more than you’re going to be successful but it is these single moments that make all of the hard work worthwhile, and that’s why we do it.”

You could say that it’s the Stewart Haas way and as crazy as that may be, it’s the best thing going.

Matt Weaver is the Executive Editor of POPULAR SPEED. He has covered NASCAR since 2011 and full-time since 2013. Weaver grew up in the sport, having raced himself before becoming a reporter in college at the University of South Alabama. He has been published all across the country and routinely makes radio appearances on Sirius XM Satellite radio and NBC Sports Radio Network.

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