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Unless you were Aric Almirola, there wasn’t much for Stewart-Haas Racing to be happy about Sunday at Daytona International Speedway.
Almirola finished seventh in the rain-shortened Cup race as his teammates either wrecked out (Clint Bowyer and Daniel Suarez) or finished multiple laps down as a result of a wreck (Kevin Harvick).
It was the latest case of disappointment this year in Cup for Stewart-Haas Racing, which is a season removed from seeing all four of its drivers combine to win a team-best 12 races.
Despite having three of its four drivers above the playoff cutline, the team finds itself winless after 18 points races. That ties SHR’s record from 2011 for the latest it’s gone in a season without a win.
That year, Ryan Newman claimed SHR’s first victory in race No. 19 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Afterward, Tony Stewart went on his historic playoff run of five wins in 10 races to win the title.
One big difference between the SHR of 2019 and 2011 is the team only had Newman and Stewart as drivers in 2011. It has had four full-time cars in its stable since 2014.
SHR will try to make history repeat in the 19th race of the season this weekend. But instead of New Hampshire, the Cup Series heads to Kentucky Speedway (7:30 p.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN).
The team journeys to the 1.5-mile track with 13 top fives this season, with Harvick and Bowyer tied with five each. Suarez has two and Almirola one (Phoenix).
Five of their top fives have come on 1.5-mile tracks, with Bowyer and Suarez collecting the best finishes of second and third respectively at Texas in March.
Harvick has led in five of the six races on 1.5-mile tracks this year for a total of 383 laps. But his best finish is fourth two times (Atlanta, Las Vegas), which is also his best result overall so far.
At Chicagoland Speedway, Harvick led 132 laps before contact with the wall soured his day and sent him to a 14th place finish.
How have the SHR drivers fared at Kentucky?
First, none of them have won there. Second, they’ve combined to earn just two top fives there in 24 combined starts.
But that’s not just a SHR problem. In the eight races at the track since 2011, only Joe Gibbs Racing, Team Penske and the defunct Furniture Row Racing have won there.
Kentucky represents one of the three active Cup tracks Harvick hasn’t won at (joining Pocono and the Charlotte Roval).
Harvick did earn his best Kentucky finish in eight starts last year with a fifth-place result. He’s also only led in one Kentucky race, leading 128 laps in 2016.
Almirola also earned his best Kentucky finish last year, placing eighth. His previous best in five starts was 12th.
Kentucky hasn’t been much kinder to Bowyer in his eight starts. He’s yet to lead a lap there and his best result was third in 2013. He’s failed to finish better than 12th in his remaining starts.
Suarez has a much smaller Kentucky resume with two starts and a best finish of 15th.
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