The 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season turned out to be worse than expected for the two-car tandem at JTG Daughtry Racing. In the middle of the season, it was reported that the team would go down to a one-car operation starting in 2022. That meant that one of Ryan Preece or Ricky Stenhouse Jr. would not have a ride with the team next year. The announcement ultimately wound up pitting the two in direct competition against one another to try and earn a ride with the team for the 2022 campaign. Which of the two would be the odd man out after the season?
The following article continues a FlurrySports series that looks back on the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season from the perspective of drivers and race teams. Read on for season reviews of the two JTG Daugherty Racing drivers, Ryan Preece and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
NASCAR Cup Series 2021 Season Reviews | JTG Daugherty Racing
Ryan Preece — No. 37
2021 marked the third year behind the wheel of the No. 37 Chevy Camaro forRyan Preece. He and the team started out strong as he wound up sixth in the Daytona 500. The good early-season vibes continued with a ninth-place showing at the Daytona Road Course. Preece unfortunately would fall off a cliff after leaving the birthplace of NASCAR.
Preece Waits Over Half of Regular-Season Before Scoring Next Top-10
Over the next ten races, Ryan Preece fell from seventh in the NASCAR Cup Series points standings all the way to 24th. He failed to record another top-10 finish until the second Pocono race when a fuel mileage strategy wound up working in his favor. All told, a whopping 16 races passed in between his top-10 on the Daytona Road Course and his result at “The Tricky Triangle”.
Best Finish of 2021 Comes in Second Daytona Race
JTG Daugherty Racing had some durability problems with the No. 37 car throughout the season. Ryan Preece hardly got so much as a sniff of qualifying for the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs on points. He needed to make something happen in the regular-season finale at Daytona. Perhaps getting back to Daytona Beach would be just the trick for him after a disappointing season.
Indeed, Preece was up near the front as the laps wound down. Unfortunately, he would not get the job done and finished fourth. Although it was a positive result compared to the majority of the season, it was too little, too late. Preece was eliminated from playoff contention.
Future Uncertain for Ryan Preece as 2022 NASCAR Season Looms
Ryan Preece would not have a finish better than 12th in any of the final ten races. He finished out the year with one top-5, four top-10s, eight DNFs, a 22.8 average finish and a 27th-place showing in the points standings. After the final race at Phoenix, Preece was informed that he would not be returning to JTG Daugherty Racing for the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season. Preece is still looking for a ride for next season and will likely have to settle for driving on a part-time/fill-in basis.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. — No. 47
The 2021 NASCAR Cup Series campaign was the second with JTG Daugherty Racing for veteran driver, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. His sophomore season in the No. 47 Camaro got off to a rough start in the Daytona 500. Stenhouse was unable to use his plate racing skills as he was a part of the early wreck on Lap 14. While Stenhouse was at least able to continue in the race (unlike most of the cars involved in the crash), he found himself two laps down and with heavy damage. He salvaged an 18th-place finish and achieved the exact same result the following week on the Daytona Road Course.
Early-Season Consistency Sees Stenhouse Make Noise in the Standings
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. consistently finished between the 10th and 20th positions up until the Bristol Dirt Race. That is where he surprised the NASCAR Cup Series world and finished runner-up to Joey Logano. Following a 15th-place run at Martinsville, Stenhouse was sitting in a pretty good spot as far as the playoff picture was concerned. His consistency had him sitting 13th in the points standings. Stenhouse was one of the pleasant surprises of the first few months.
Season, Playoff Hopes Unravel for Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Unfortunately, everything began to unravel for the No. 47 JTG Daugherty Racing camp beginning Talladega. A 33rd-place showing on a superspeedway wound up being a bad sign of things to come for Ricky Stenhouse Jr. It was followed by a 34th-place run at Kansas. Just like that, Stenhouse found himself back on the outside of the top-16 in the points standings.
He continued his downward trajectory until Nashville where he finished sixth. That would be Stenhouse’s final top-10 result of the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season. The inconsistency of the entire JTG Daugherty Racing organization cost Stenhouse any chance at resurrecting his postseason hopes.
Stenhosue Gets the Nod to Return to JTG Daugherty Racing in 2022
Over the last ten races, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. failed to record a single finish better than 16th. In five of the ten races, he finished 21st or worse. Stenhouse finished the year with only one top-5, two top-10s, six DNFs, a 19.7 average finish and a 22nd place showing in the NASCAR Cup Series points standings. Nonetheless, Stenhouse will be back with JTG Daugherty Racing next year as the team’s only driver after they downsize to a single car. Hopefully, the increased allocation of resources to the No. 47 car will help Stenhouse fare better on the track in 2022.