Two Cup drivers find homes for 2022 season

Matt DiBenedetto and Ryan Preece will have seats in NASCAR this season.

Stewart-Haas Racing announced Thursday that team has hired Preece as its reserve driver this season. Preece spent the last three seasons with JTG Daugherty Racing in NASCAR’s Cup series driving the No. 37 Chevrolet. He was let go from the team at the end of 2021 as it pares down from three cars to one with the fulltime ride going to Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Stewart-Haas said Preece will do simulator work and be entered in a mix of races across each of NASCAR’s top three touring series — Cup, Xfinity and Camping World Trucks in an SHR prepared Ford.

Preece will also be the default driver if any of SHR’s full-time drivers are unable to compete due to COVID-19 or any other unforeseen circumstance.

“Between the amount of testing and development work we’re doing with the Next Gen car this year, his added insights and time in the simulator will make us better by allowing us to learn faster,” Greg Zipadelli, vice president of competition, SHR said. “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.”

The team said Preece will run a total of 12 races — two in Cup, three in Xfinity and seven in Truck. His Cup and Xfinity Series races will be in coordination with SHR and its technical alliance partners. His Truck Series starts will come with David Gilliland Racing.

“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,” said Preece, who spent the last three seasons (2019-2021) competing full-time in Cup. “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’s two Cup Series races will be May 1 at Dover (Del.) Motor Speedway and May 29 at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway. His three Xfinity Series races will be April 2 at Richmond (Va.) Raceway, May 28 at Charlotte and June 25 at Nashville (Tenn.) Superspeedway. His seven Truck Series races will be March 4 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, March 19 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, May 6 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway, May 20 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, June 24 at Nashville, July 23 at Pocono Raceway in Pennsylvania and Sept. 9 at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City.

ELKHART LAKE, WISCONSIN – JULY 04: Ryan Preece, driver of the #37 Maxwell House/Kroger Chevrolet, waits on the grid prior to the NASCAR Cup Series Jockey Made in America 250 Presented by Kwik Trip at Road America on July 04, 2021 in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Preece made two Truck Series starts last year, winning in his series debut June 18 at Nashville. He is a two-time Xfinity Series victor, winning in July 2017 at Iowa Speedway in Newton and April 2018 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.

Shortly after the Preece announcement, Rackley W.A.R. revealed that Matt DiBenedetto will be running fulltime in the NASCAR Truck Series this season. This will be the second season running full-time in the NASCAR Truck Series for the Tennessee based team that was founded by former truck series driver, Willie Allen, and Rackley Roofing CEO, Curtis Sutton.

Last season the team raced the No. 25 Truck with three drivers: Timothy Peters, Josh Berry, and Brett Moffitt. They also fielded the No. 27 Truck for one race with William Byron. The teams best finish came from Berry who finished 10th at Texas Motor Speedway in June.

“We are honored to have Matt DiBenedetto join Rackley W.A.R. full-time for the 2022 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season driving the number 25 Chevrolet.,” Sutton said. “We feel that by teaming Matt up with experienced crew chief Chad Kendrick, we will be competing for multiple wins and be competitive at all racetracks. I truly believe that the NASCAR Truck Series is the most exciting, and I am looking forward to getting the season started.”

ROSSBURG, OH – JULY 18: Ryan Newman, driver of the #3 RyanNewmanVRExperience/MotoShieldPro Chevrolet, stands by his truck during qualifying for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Eldora Dirt Derby at Eldora Speedway on July 18, 2018 in Rossburg, Ohio. (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)

DiBenedetto has had an up and down career in NASCAR making 69 starts in the Xfinity series and 248 in the Cup series. He spent 2020 and 2021 in the Cup series with the Wood Brothers and was released at the end of the season to make way for Harrison Burton. DiBenedetto will be making his first start in the Truck series at Daytona next month.

“I can honestly say that, at this time in my career, I am truly excited,” DiBenedetto said. “I feel like I’m going back to my roots in a lot of ways. I love the feeling you immediately get when you talk to Curtis, Willie, Chad, all the guys around this organization. They are all hard-core racers, and everyone is extremely dedicated. This opportunity is a blessing to me, and I’m really excited to do my part in taking this team to the next level.”

The only high-profile driver from the 2021 Cup series without a ride for this season is Ryan Newman. Newman was replaced at Roush Racing by new team co-owner Brad Keselowski as that team was rebranded to Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing.

Newman has been a full-time Cup driver for 20 years, with 18 wins driving for Penske, SHR, Richard Childress Racing and Roush. He has said he’d be open to a part-time deal and the possibility exists that Roush could field a third car on a limited basis with him as the driver.