Stewart-Haas Racing announced today that Ryan Preece will move to a full-time position with the team in 2023, driving the No. 41 Ford Mustang in the NASCAR Cup Series.
He will replace Cole Custer who has driven the SHR No. 41 since 2020 with one Cup Series win at Kentucky Speedway. Custer will remain with the team but return to the Xfinity Series where he has 10 wins, highlighted by seven victories during the 2019 season.
Preece’s promotion signifies the end of a somewhat unique alliance. In January 2022 Preece was signed as a reserve driver for the organization while also competing on a limited schedule in all three of NASCAR’s top series. His results included one Camping World Truck Series win at Nashville Superspeedway.
Though it was an unconventional arrangement with no guarantee that it would evolve into a full-time position, Preece seized the opportunity. It was a calculated decision by the Berlin, Connecticut native, who made his mark in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, winning the championship in 2013 and earning 25 career wins.
But despite his success across multiple series, he wanted more.
“This is a second chance and something where I’ve won in everything I’ve ever been in. I’ve won so many different championships at a local level, whether it was track championships or regional championships, it’s just been something where I’ve learned how to be a winner and I wanted to do it at NASCAR’s highest level.”
And for Preece, it was a gamble he was willing to take.
“This could have gone way different, but I’ve never been the conservative type of person. I’m willing to risk it all and it’s worked out.
“I did turn down truck opportunities, Xfinity opportunities,” he added. “There were quite a few different teams that came to me, whether they were full-time or part-time, and I thought about if there was the smallest bit of opportunity for me to end up at Stewart-Haas, I wasn’t gonna walk away. I was willing to sit there until there was absolutely no hope and possibly be jobless, possibly not have a ride, but I was willing to take that risk.”
As an added bonus, Preece heads into next season with the support of team co-owner, Tony Stewart, who reportedly was one of the main factors in the decision to promote Preece.
“To have a guy like him in your corner trying to help you fight for that opportunity because sometimes it just takes somebody cracking that door open so you can bust through it,” he said, “and it’s taken a lot of people to do this.
“Ultimately, it’s worked out and this opportunity has come.”
Preece is determined to make the most of it.
“A lot of that comes down to how bad somebody wants it and what they’re willing to do, and I think my past experiences show that I’m willing to do whatever it takes.
“I’m not willing to lose. I’m not willing to fail.”