Ryan Preece has just locked up a unique opportunity for the 2022 NASCAR season. He has joined Stewart-Haas Racing as a reserve driver and will make a set number of starts across all three national series.
SHR announced the news on Thursday, January 6, and confirmed Preece’s new role. The team explained that he will spend a considerable amount of time on the simulator and will make 12 starts — two in Cup, three in Xfinity, and seven in Truck — while remaining under the Ford Performance banner. Preece will also step in if any drivers are unable to compete due to COVID-19 or any other unforeseen circumstances.
“Ryan is a versatile wheelman with a racer’s mentality who fits extremely well within our culture at Stewart-Haas Racing,” said Greg Zipadelli, vice president of competition of SHR, in a statement. “Between the amount of testing and development work we’re doing with the NextGen car this year, his added insights and time in the simulator will make us better by allowing us to learn faster.
“Plus, we’re still dealing with COVID. As much as we all want it to be over, it’s not. We needed a more robust plan in the event COVID sidelines one of our drivers. We have that now with Ryan.”
Alex Bowman took on a similar role with Hendrick Motorsports before joining the team on a full-time basis. He made 10 starts in place of Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 2016 and then signed with HMS in October 2016 to remain a part of the organization. Once Earnhardt retired at the end of the 2017 season, Bowman took over the No. 88 on a full-time basis.
Preece Will Work With a Team He Took to Victory Lane
A key part of the reserve driver role and partnership with Ford Performance is that Preece will continue to build on a relationship with a Truck Series organization. He will return to David Gilliland Racing in 2022 and pursue more wins.
Connecticut native made his first-ever Truck Series starts during the 2021 season. He first joined DGR at Nashville Superspeedway and took the No. 17 Hunt Brothers Pizza Ford to Victory Lane. He then returned to the team for a ninth-place run at Pocono Raceway.
Preece will rejoin DGR in 2022, starting with the March 4 Truck Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. He will return on March 19 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, May 6 at Darlington Raceway, May 20 at Texas Motor Speedway, June 24 at Nashville, July 23 at Pocono Raceway, and September 9 at Kansas Speedway.
“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,” Preece said in a statement. “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 Will Compete for a Crown Jewel
Preece will only make two Cup Series starts in 2022 due to his new reserve role, but one will provide him with a memorable opportunity. He will make his first start of the year on May 1 at Dover International Speedway and then he will compete for a Crown Jewel when he suits up for the May 29 Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Preece has made four starts at the Concord, N.C., track during his Cup Series career, all with JTG Daugherty Racing. Though only three were in the Coca-Cola 600. The fourth was a second race in 2020 due to COVID-19. He first competed in the Coca-Cola 600 in 2019 and finished 31st after mechanical issues. His other three starts at Charlotte resulted in 22nd, 24th, and 26th-place finishes.
SHR has yet to reveal his number or his partners for the two Cup Series starts, but this information will surface at a later date. For now, Preece will prepare for a unique season of stock car racing.
READ NEXT: Alpha Prime Racing Reveals Second Car Number