More than 200 credentialed print, radio and television media piled into the press conference room at theCharlotte Convention Center, as team co-owner/driver Tony Stewart, defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick, Danica Patrick and Kurt Busch sat side-by-side with co-owner Gene Haas. The 2014 season was both celebratory and demanding, as a myriad of on- and off-track issues put the SHR team in the spotlight for most of the year.
"I'm not happy about the last two years of my life," said Stewart. "It's given me more drive and desire to get back to the old form that our fans and sponsors are used to seeing us in. This is probably the most prepared I've been in a while for a season."
Should Stewart get back to championship form then it will likely be his championship teammate that he'll be chasing down. Coming off of the first Sprint Cup title of his career, Harvick is ready to build off his championship season and into a true perennial contender.
"There's a sense of responsibility for the sport, as the champion, to make sure that you represent the sport and do the things you need to in order to grow the sport," said Harvick. "It is way more fun to win the championship than to lose it. That's motivation in itself (to try and win it again). You want to move forward and keep doing your job the best that you can."
A similar mantra is coming out of the No. 10 GoDaddy.com camp. About to begin her third full season in the Cup Series, Patrick has a new crew chief in Daniel Knost, but she doesn't anticipate changing much about her approach to racing.
"Really to continue with the things that were happening and the improvements made in the areas that I was looking to improve," said Patrick. "It's also to develop new relationships. With a new crew chief we need to get to know each other, so I'll be putting a lot of hard work into getting our communication going. After that, it's picking up where I left off (last year) with crew chief Tony Gibson."
Gibson is now on top of the pit box for Busch. Put together for the final three races of 2014, the two had instant chemistry with Busch averaging an 8.7 finish with two top-10s over that stretch.
"We want to continue to build off the success we had from 2014, winning a race and making the Chase, but that's not what we're here to do," said Busch. "We're here to shoot for a championship. We want to build on the team's chemistry, using those last three races with Tony; those are the types of races we know we are capable of putting together."