Ryan Preece made the choice to bet on himself a year ago, spending his own money to drive the No. 18 for Joe Gibbs in the Xfinity Series, perhaps the most prized ride in that series. Preece has more than proven his worth in winning equipment, winning twice and finishing in the top-five eight times in only thirteen start.
Yesterday, Preece’s gamble paid off big-time, as he was announced as the driver of the No. 47 car at JTG Daugherty Racing in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series for 2019. Preece will drive full-time as the replacement for A.J. Allmendinger, who is leaving the team at the conclusion of this season.
Preece is more than ecstatic about joining a full-time Cup operation.
“I’m really thankful for the opportunity for being able to race for Tad and Jodi and Brad and those guys, it’s just a dream come true,” he said at the press conference regarding his move to JTG Daugherty Racing. “A lot of you know the path that I’ve gone down and the sleepless nights that I’ve gone through to chase after trophies and win races. To finally get to this level, and earn it, it’s really a short-tracker’s dream to finally get here and to race for such people with class. It’s a family owned team and that’s something that I’ve always been a part of with different Modified teams.”
Team owner Tad Geschicketer was just as thrilled to bring Preece aboard. For him, it was a return to the early roots of the team.
“My very first driver 25 years ago, Jodi and mine was Jeff Fuller [longtime Tour racer],” said Geschickter. So, I think that is some of the best racing there is out there, some of the toughest competitors.”
Geschicketer also remembers seeing Preece’s talent before he was thrust into the national spotlight with Joe Gibbs Racing.
“It is so much in the driver’s hands, so obviously, watching his career there, I first noticed him when he was in the Xfinity Series with Johnny Davis and what he was able to do with that equipment, take that team to the next level,” he said. “To me, part of the driver description is being able to tell you what we need to work on. With his hands-on experience and the way, he has built his cars through his career, etc., that is what sold me.”
Modified fans haven’t seen the last of Preece behind the wheel of a ground-pounder, either. Just because Preece will be full-time in the Cup Series next year doesn’t mean he’s giving up modified racing altogther.
“I think I already got some approval to go run some Modified races, but there won’t be any interference,” said Preece on modified racing next season. “I imagine I might do double-duty at Loudon. That New Hampshire weekend is a big weekend for me. But, there’s a mid-week show that doesn’t conflict with any obligations that I have with these guys or for me being in the shop, where I feel like is going to be pretty important. I’ll try to make some races work.”
It’s been a long road for Preece to make it to NASCAR’s highest rung of competition. Now that he’s there, his next goal is to win.
“There is a lot to work with here, we can win,” said Preece. “We can as long as we put the pieces of the puzzle together and make it all work together, we can get there.”
Ryan Preece has impressed on both the Whelen Modified Tour and the Xfinity Series. Now, it’s time to see if he can do the same in the Cup Series.