NASCAR: The driver who is looking pretty smart right now

Ryan Preece, JTG Daugherty Racing, NASCAR (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Ryan Preece, JTG Daugherty Racing, NASCAR (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) /

With his future in NASCAR uncertain, Ryan Preece has himself in a position to potentially land a great opportunity with Stewart-Haas Racing in the coming years.

Following the conclusion of the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season, Ryan Preece was let go of by JTG Daugherty Racing, as they have downsized to a one-car operation for 2022.

After three full seasons in a mid-pack ride, the 31-year-old had to scrape together an opportunity to return to any of NASCAR’s top three series.

Related Story. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. still annoys Martin Truex, Jr.. light

Fortunately for him, Gene Haas and Tony Stewart took notice of his talents, announcing that Stewart-Haas Racing had signed him as their reserve driver.

Preece is set to work in the team’s simulator, run two Cup Series races and three Xfinity Series races with Stewart-Haas Racing-aligned teams, and run seven Truck Series races with David Gilliland Racing.

The move is comparable to when Alex Bowman signed as the simulator and reserve driver for Hendrick Motorsports in 2017 before taking over behind the wheel of the #88 Chevrolet after Dale Earnhardt Jr. retired.

And it may look even more similar before long.

With Aric Almirola announcing that he will retire after 2022 and Kevin Harvick expected to retire after 2023, Preece is in prime position to inherit either the #10 Ford or the #4 Ford.

Lack of sponsorship has limited Preece’s opportunities in NASCAR thus far, but there is no doubting his talent.

The Berlin, Connecticut native cut his teeth in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, collecting 25 wins, 81 top five finishes, 107 top 10 finishes and the series championship in 2013.

In 2017, Preece capitalized on a four-race deal with Joe Gibbs Racing in the Xfinity Series, finishing in the top five in every start and winning at Iowa Speedway.

The success earned him an expanded schedule with the team in 2018 when he collected another win at Bristol Motor Speedway, seven top five finishes and 10 top 10 finishes in 15 starts.

Last season, Preece made his first career Truck Series start at Nashville Superspeedway, and he took the #17 David Gilliland Racing Ford to victory lane.

Based on strong showings in good equipment, the veteran driver has the talent to compete for Cup Series wins with a fast car.

If he does inherit a vacated Cup ride at Stewart-Haas Racing within the next two years, it would give the team a veteran presence to help lead young drivers Cole Custer and Chase Briscoe.

Next. Top 25 NASCAR drivers of all-time. dark

If additional sponsorship can be secured, the partnership could pay dividends in the long run for both driver and team.