Gene Haas has ruled out reducing his four-car Stewart-Haas Racing NASCAR Cup line-up in 2018 even if he has to bankroll it through his own companies.
The team Haas co-owns with three-time Cup champion Tony Stewart currently fields four Fords for Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer, Kurt Busch and Danica Patrick.
While 2015 champion Harvick signed a contract extension last May and Bowyer is in the first year of his deal to replace the now-retired Stewart, both Busch and Patrick are out of contract at the end of this year.
Haas is subsidising two of those entries with the Haas Automation brand that also funds his Formula 1 team.
Bowyer has run the Haas livery in 12 of 2017’s first 16 Cup races while the branding is split with Monster Energy on Busch’s car.
“Sponsorships can make anywhere from 25% to 100% of running the car,” Haas said.
“There are other revenue streams [such as Ford] and you have winnings from NASCAR.
“All of these things add up to generate the revenue it takes to run a team.
“So, to say, ‘If we don’t have a sponsor, does that mean we shouldn’t run?’
“No, that means we’d lose the money from the other sources.
“It’s kind of a business decision. If you can get money from all the sources, you can actually make a little money from this.
“If one of them drops out, you just might have to wait for a year or so until you line up another one.
“It would be foolish to drop a team, because then we would lose money from the manufacturer and NASCAR, which is a substantial amount of money.
“Financially running four teams makes sense, because with this new charter system we’re paid money to run the cars not only from NASCAR [prize fund] but with our relationship with Ford.
“If we can have a driver that wins races — and with a reasonable sponsor — all the teams can be profitable.
“What we’re here for is to try to make a little money at this.”
While there has been speculation over Patrick’s future in particular, as she remains without a top-five finish in the Cup series in five years with the team, Haas said he was some way off announcing a 2018 line-up.
“In order for all the pieces to fall into place, you have to take all three parties — the drivers, the owners and the sponsors – and see if you can’t align all the stars up and get them to agree on something,” he said.
“A sponsor, who will remain nameless, typically likes to negotiate in January, so it’s a problem.
“I know a lot of people have these options, but a lot of people don’t like to make a decision until a month after the last possible time you can make a decision.”