NASCAR Cup Series

Ryan Preece replaces Cole Custer in Stewart-Haas #41

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Credit: Meg Oliphant/Getty Images

Ryan Preece lost his full-time NASCAR Cup Series ride when JTG Daugherty Racing shut down the #37 car at the end of the 2021 season, and he found his footing at Stewart-Haas Racing as a reserve driver. A handful of starts across all three national divisions and plenty of simulator work later, SHR has rewarded him with another chance at the top level as he will drive the #41 Ford Mustang in 2023. He replaces Cole Custer.

“Ryan Preece has been a real asset to our race team this year as we’ve developed the Next Gen car,” said team co-owner Tony Stewart. “The time and effort he’s put into our program, combined with his real-world racing experience, earned him this opportunity,”

Besides serving as SHR’s backup, Preece ran a limited slate in the Cup, Xfinity, and Truck Series for the team’s allies. He made two Cup starts for Rick Ware Racing at Dover and Charlotte, along with the exhibition Busch Light Clash; three in Xfinity for B.J. McLeod Motorsports at Richmond, Charlotte, and Nashville; and ten in the Trucks for David Gilliland Racing. He scored top tens in all but one of his Truck attempts including a win at Nashville, where he also claimed the victory the previous year with DGR in his series début.

Preece raced full-time in Cup for JTG from 2019 to 2021, notching nine top tens and a best points finish of twenty-sixth in the #47 car.

“This is the opportunity I’ve been working for,” commented Preece. “Nothing was guaranteed at the start of this year, but I felt like if I put in the time, whether it was in a race car or in a simulator, that SHR was the place for me. It’s a company built by racers, for racers, and it’s exactly where I want to be.”

Custer, whose father Joe is the president, won Cup Rookie of the Year honours in 2020 with a victory at Kentucky. However, as SHR suffered a performance decline over the next two years, Custer was especially impacted as he finished twenty-sixth and twenty-fifth in the standings with just a combined five top tens.

Despite the demotion, Custer returns to the series where he was a championship contender from 2017 to 2019. He finished runner-up in the points battle in 2018 and 2019, with the latter season seeing him win seven times. Custer also ran a limited Xfinity slate for SS-Green Light Racing in 2022 and won at Fontana.

With Custer’s return to the series, SHR’s Xfinity programme is once again back at two cars. The team announced Riley Herbst, who drives the #98, would stay in the seat on Tuesday.

“Cole Custer has been a part of SHR since 2017 and we’re glad to have him stay with us,” Stewart added. “Cole’s experience will be invaluable to Riley Herbst as he continues his development in the Xfinity Series.”

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Justin is not an off-road racer, but he writes about it for The Checkered Flag.
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