NASCAR Cup SeriesNASCAR Truck SeriesNASCAR Xfinity Series

Ryan Preece joins Stewart-Haas as reserve driver

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Credit: Adam Glanzman/NASCAR

Ryan Preece might not be racing full-time in a NASCAR national series in 2022, but he will still be a very busy driver. On Thursday, Stewart-Haas Racing announced Preece has joined the organisation as its reserve and simulator driver, which will also include making occasional starts in the Cup, Xfinity, and Camping World Truck Series for the team and its allies.

He will drive two races in Cup, three in Xfinity, and seven in Trucks. SHR did not reveal which team will field him in the first two series, though the Cup starts will not come with said team as it is at the four-car limit; SHR’s Cup partners include Rick Ware Racing and Live Fast Motorsports. Although SHR has an Xfinity programme that fields the #98 for Riley Herbst, its Cup drivers Chase Briscoe and Kevin Harvick ran Xfinity races in 2021 for B.J. McLeod Motorsports, whose namesake co-owns Live Fast, which places that team in the list of potential suitors for Preece’s starts there. RSS Racing also has a technical alliance with SHR. In the Trucks, David Gilliland Racing will field a truck for him.

“This is a unique setup, but I feel like it provides me with the best opportunity to win races and contribute to a championship-caliber team while expanding my racing experience,” said Preece. “I’m a racer, and Stewart-Haas Racing is a team built by racers. They measure success by wins. Whether I’m in the simulator, in one of their cars, or in a Ford Mustang or Ford F-150 for another team, I’m here to help SHR and Ford win.”

Preece spent the last three seasons in the Cup Series with JTG Daugherty Racing, scoring nine top tens and two top fives. His 2021 campaign saw four top tens, a best race finish of fourth at the Daytona fall race, and a twenty-seventh-place points finish. However, questions surrounded his #37 car as the team had sold its charter and he did not have sufficient sponsorship to run all thirty-six races. Although the #37 ultimately ran every race, the writing on the wall of his departure grew more apparent before the team formally announced it would only retain team-mate Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in the flagship #47 for 2022.

Despite the news, Preece seemed almost destined to move to the Ford camp. In June, he won in his Truck début for David Gilliland Racing at Nashville Superspeedway, the first Truck race there in a decade.

Although he is not in a weekly drive, the arrangement is not unusual in NASCAR. One of the more notable cases comes from Hendrick Motorsports, whose Cup driver Alex Bowman was in a similar capacity with the team in 2015 to 2017, serving as a replacement for the injured Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 2016 while also testing the simulator and occasionally racing for the team’s lower series partners. The backup role is especially critical in current times as COVID-19 could sideline a primary driver.

“Ryan is a versatile wheelman with a racer’s mentality who fits extremely well within our culture at Stewart-Haas Racing,” SHR vice president of competition Greg Zipadelli stated. “Between the amount of testing and development work we’re doing with the Next Gen car this year, his added insights and time in the simulator will make us better by allowing us to learn faster.”

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History major at San Jose State University and lifelong motorsports fan who covers NASCAR and the Stadium Super Trucks.
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