NASCAR owner Gene Haas says he won’t give up pursuit of Formula One team

jutter@charlotteobserver.comJanuary 27, 2014 

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NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Danica Patrick said on Monday that in some ways she still feels like a Sprint Cup rookie after running a full season in 2013. She had one top-10 finish in 36 starts.

JEFF SINER — jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

Gene Haas called his pursuit of a license to own a Formula One team “an incredibly difficult challenge” but says he intends to see the process through.

Haas, who co-owns Stewart-Haas Racing with driver Tony Stewart, recently filed “an expression of interest” with the FIA, the international motorsports governing body, for an entry in Formula One for the 2015 season.

“It’s nothing to be taken lightly. It’s filled with peril and there is a million ways to fail,” Hass said Monday during the first day of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Media Tour at the Charlotte Convention Center.

“I’ve learned a lot in NASCAR. I think what we’ve done is something we could apply in Formula One – the way we do business.”

SHR broke ground late last year on an expansion of its Kannapolis headquarters as it grows from three to four Cup teams. Haas indicated Monday he could use some additional undeveloped land he owned in the area as a base for an F1 team.

Stewart was supportive of Haas’ interest.

“I think it’s pretty exciting because there are things down the road that could benefit our Cup program as well by Gene’s involvement in an F1 team. I think it’s a great opportunity,” Stewart said. “I think Gene has shown he has the ability to build a championship-caliber team in NASCAR and he’s ambitious and wants to expand on that.”

Busch might try Indy 500: Kurt Busch, who moves to SHR this season, said there was “a 70 percent chance” he would run the Indianapolis 500.

It has been nearly a decade since a driver last attempted to run the it and the Coca-Cola 600 on the same day. Robby Gordon was the most recent, joining Stewart and John Andretti.

Busch said NASCAR’s new knockout qualifying format might play a role in his decision as he will need to balance the schedule of track time in NASCAR and IndyCar.

Patrick still feels like a rookie: Danica Patrick, who will begin her second full season in the Cup series, said she in some ways still feels very much like a rookie.

“It’s nice to have things stay consistent with my team, it will help to build on last year. At the end of the day, I have the most amount to learn,” said Patrick, who had one top-10 finish in 36 races last season.

“Having Kevin (Harvick) and Kurt (Busch) here now and all the new people on the team, it almost feels like I’m a rookie again. I have a lot of people I can learn from.”

Patrick is the only driver at SHR who retained the same crew chief (Tony Gibson) from last season.

Scott honored: Marcy Scott of Atlanta Motor Speedway was named the recipient of the Ken Patterson Helping Others Award and the National Motorsports Press Association Spirit Award.

The Patterson award recognizes a representative in the motorsports industry who exhibited the kind and generous qualities for which Patterson, a former public relations representative at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, was known.

The Spirit Award recognizes character and achievement in the face of adversity, sportsmanship and contributions to motorsports.

Scott, who served the past eight years as marketing and promotions director for AMS, died Nov. 1 after a long battle with breast cancer. She was 42.

Johnson wins again: For the sixth time, members of the NMPA named Jimmie Johnson the winner of the Richard Petty Driver of the Year Award.

Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Chevrolet, edged Matt Kenseth, who also was second to Johnson in the 2013 Cup standing, in voting. He received 50 percent of the votes cast; Kenseth received 48 percent and Stewart was named on 2 percent of the ballots.

Utter: 704-358-5113; Twitter: @jim_utter.

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