Ryan Preece has raced full-time in the NASCAR Cup Series since 2019 for JTG Daugherty Racing, scoring five top-ten finishes. However, his plans of doing it for a third year have hit a snag. Speaking to Fox Sports’ Bob Pockrass, team co-owner Brad Daugherty revealed Preece’s #37 car only has enough funding to run twenty-four of the thirty-six races, and the lack of a charter means Preece is not guaranteed a spot in every event.
From its opening in 2017 to the end of 2020, the #37 had a charter that locked it into every race. During its first season with Chris Buescher as driver, it received a charter from Roush Fenway Racing‘s shuttered #16, which was sold to Team Penske‘s #12 after one year. Over the next three seasons, the #37 raced on a charter from the closed #77 of Furniture Row Racing, which JTG then sold to Spire Motorsports for the 2021 season. The #77 charter’s rights is primarily held by former team owner Todd Braun, whose nephew Justin Haley occasionally races for Spire.
“If they don’t get additional funding and get to a point during the year where they feel they are stretching themselves too thin, (JTG) will then make a decision on what races to skip,” explained Pockrass in a Twitter thread. “Daugherty said basically (the) deal for the 37 charter was for three years of JTG ownership (much like a lease since Braun able to execute some rights as part of JTG’s purchase) and then ‘we both walked away and that’s fine.'”
Pockrass concluded the thread by noting that as charters were being sold for $5 million and estimated earnings were $3.5 million, the team intends to watch the market to gauge the viability of a two-car operation. JTG’s #47, which has been their flagship car since their founding, is chartered and currently driven by Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Preece drove the #47 in 2019 before moving to the #37 in 2020.
“In many ways, the fact that the values have gone up is exactly why (the charter system is) in place,” tweeted driver Parker Kligerman. “Being the odd one out without one is simply bad-timing – not a knock on the system.”
Preece’s first season in the #37 saw him record two top tens and a best finish of ninth at Bristol in the fall as he finished twenty-ninth in points. However, he also struggled with consistency during the year due to wrecks and mechanical trouble (a similar predicament that plagued team-mate Stenhouse), which included a dubious three-race stretch in which he finished last every time. The 2013 Whelen Modified Tour champion also has two Xfinity Series wins and a best Cup finish of third at Talladega in 2019.
As an “open” car, Preece will have to race his way into the Daytona 500 via qualifying time or strong finish in the Bluegreen Vacations Duel. The season opener already has numerous non-chartered entries that include Kaulig Racing‘s Kaz Grala, Team Penske‘s Austin Cindric, Front Row Motorsports‘ David Ragan, MBM Motorsports‘ Chad Finchum and Timmy Hill, Beard Motorsports‘ Noah Gragson, and Gaunt Brothers Racing‘s Ty Dillon. As thirty-six teams have charters, the eight open drivers and any yet-to-be-announced entries will have to fight for the final four spots. Preece finished eighth in his Daytona 500 début in 2019.