In a move that was long rumored but not confirmed and announced until now, Stewart-Haas Racing revealed that Ryan Preece will pilot the #41 Ford in the NASCAR Cup Series starting in 2023, replacing Cole Custer. Custer will head back to the Xfinity Series where he will race full-time there for Stewart-Haas.
— Stewart-Haas Racing (@StewartHaasRcng) November 16, 2022
Preece has had a unique path to get to where he is. A short track ace in the New England area modified scene, Preece tried his hand at NASCAR when he was 22, getting rides with underfunded Xfinity teams.
While some drivers get to where they are by bringing in sponsorship money, Preece took out a loan to fund two Xfinity races with Joe Gibbs Racing. Knowing this was likely his only opportunity to shine in top equipment, Preece finished second and first in those races. That earned him two more races that season, finishing fourth and fifth, and that got him a deal the next year to do 15 races before going Cup Series racing in 2019.
With JTG-Daugherty Racing, Preece did what he could in average equipment but when the team dropped to a single car team, Preece was the odd-man out. Instead of going to an underfunded team to turn laps and keep his name in discussions, Preece took another chance and joined Stewart-Haas as their simulator test driver as well as running a handful of Xfinity and Craftsman Truck Series races. While it meant not racing full-time in 2022, he did get his foot in the door with a top NASCAR team.
Patience paid off for Preece as he is now racing full-time in Cup once again. Will this be as successful on-track as his first top Xfinity opportunity? That remains to be seen. That being said, I’m pretty sure Preece is itching for 2023 to get here so he can show what he can do in the #41 in 2023.