Stewart-Haas Racing‘s sphere of influence continues to grow in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. On Friday, SS-Green Light Racing announced a switch from Chevrolet to Ford and the formation of a partnership with SHR. Joe Graf Jr. will return for his third season with the team, while SHR’s Cup Series pilots Chase Briscoe and Cole Custer will make sporadic Xfinity starts in the team’s other car.
“We are thrilled to be part of this new relationship with SS-Green Light Racing,” stated SHR executive Joe Custer, father of Cole. “The team is very eager to raise their competitiveness to the next level and with this technical arrangement, they are going to be in a great position to accomplish all of their goals and more next season, as well as position themselves for future growth.”
In 2021, SSGLR allied with Rick Ware Racing to field the #17 for a litany of drivers with ties to RWR’s Cup programme. Custer, who made his Cup début with RWR in 2018, piloted the #17 to a seventh-place finish at Circuit of the Americas in his lone Xfinity start of 2021. Graf ran much of the schedule save for six rounds, and scored his maiden NASCAR top ten when he finished tenth at the fall Talladega event. He finished his sophomore season twenty-eighth in the standings.
“I am so stoked for the new opportunities in 2022,” commented Graf. “Our new relationship with Stewart-Haas Racing and Ford will allow us to continue to grow and improve as a team and hopefully give us the opportunity to showcase our ability in the NASCAR Xfinity Series at our highest level yet.”
Briscoe, the 2020 Xfinity regular season champion and 2021 Cup Rookie of the Year, returned to the second tier for two starts this past season with B.J. McLeod Motorsports, who fielded the #99 with SHR support. After finishing sixth at Charlotte, he placed nineteenth at Daytona.
SHR fields four Cup cars and the #98 Xfinity Ford for Riley Herbst. Despite only having one vehicle in the Xfinity Series, the team’s presence is felt through technical allies like BJMM and RSS Racing. RWR also has a deal to work with the team for the 2022 Cup season.
Additional drivers in the second SSGLR car were not immediately announced, though many expect Ryan Preece to be one of them. Preece joined SHR as a reserve and simulator driver for 2022, which will include running the Xfinity races at Richmond, Charlotte, and Nashville for an unannounced team. SHR could hypothetically also open a second car, though such a decision is impractical as it would have no owner points to guarantee spots in races.