NASCAR Cup Series Season Reviews

The 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season turned out to be worse than expected for the two-car tandem JTG Daughtry Racing. It was reported halfway through the season that the team would transition to a one-car operation from 2022. That meant that one of Ryan Preece or Ricky Stenhouse Jr. would not have a ride with the team next year. The announcement eventually saw the two face off in direct competition to try and get a ride with the team for the 2022 campaign. Which of the two would be the odd one out after the season?

The following article continues a FlurrySports series that looks back at the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season from the perspective of drivers and race teams. Read on for seasonal reviews from the two JTG Daugherty Racing drivers, Ryan Preece and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Credit: Andrew Coppley/HHP for Chevy Racing

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 for Ryan Preece. He and the team started strong as he finished sixth in the Daytona 500. The good spirit at the start of the season continued with a ninth place finish on the Daytona Road Course. Preece would sadly fall off a cliff after leaving NASCAR’s hometown.

Preece waits more than half of the regular season before scoring the next top-10

In the next ten races, Ryan Preece fell from seventh in the NASCAR Cup Series points standings all the way to 24th. He failed to get another top-10 finish until the second Pocono race, when a fuel mileage strategy worked in his favor. All in all, there were no fewer than 16 races between his top-10 on the Daytona Road Course and his result in “The Tricky Triangle”.

Best finish of 2021 comes in second Daytona Race

JTG Daugherty Racing had some durability issues with the No. 37 car all season. Ryan Preece barely got a sniff of qualifying for the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs on points. He had to make something happen in the regular season finale at Daytona. Perhaps the trick for him would be to return to Daytona Beach after a disappointing season.

Indeed, Preece was almost at the front as the laps wound down. Unfortunately, he wouldn’t get the job done and finished fourth. While it was a positive result compared to most of the season, it was too little, too late. Preece was eliminated from playoff contention.

Future uncertain for Ryan Preece as NASCAR season looms in 2022

Ryan Preece would not finish better than 12th in any of the last ten races. He finished the year with one top-5, four top-10s, eight DNFs, a 22.8 average finish and 27th in the points standings. After the final race in Phoenix, Preece was told 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 part-time/fill-in basis.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.  NASCAR Cup Series Season Reviews JTG Daugherty Racing
Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. — No. 47

The 2021 NASCAR Cup Series campaign was the second with JTG Daugherty Racing ahead of veteran driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr. His second season in the No.47 Camaro got off to a rocky start in the Daytona 500. Stenhouse was unable to use his plate racing skills as he was part of the early wreckage on lap 14. Though at least Stenhouse was able to continue Going into the race (unlike most of the cars involved in the crash), he found himself two laps down and had heavy damage. He took 18th place and got the exact same result the following week at the Daytona Road Course.

Early season consistency makes Stenhouse make noise in the standings

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. finished consistently between 10th and 20th position until the Bristol Dirt Race. There, he surprised the NASCAR Cup Series world, finishing second to Joey Logano. After a 15th place run in Martinsville, Stenhouse was in a pretty good spot as far as the playoff picture. Due to his consistency, he was ranked 13th in the points standings. Stenhouse was one of the pleasant surprises of the first few months.

Season, playoff hopes to unravel for Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Unfortunately, things started to unravel for the No. 47 JTG Daugherty Racing camp that started in Talladega. A 33rd place finish on a superspeedway turned out to be a bad sign of things to come for Ricky Stenhouse Jr. It was followed by a 34th place finish in Kansas. Stenhouse was once again on the outside of the top-16 in the points classification.

He continued his downward trajectory as far as Nashville where he finished sixth. That would be Stenhouse’s last top-10 result of the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season. The inconsistency of the entire JTG Daugherty Racing organization cost Stenhouse every chance to rekindle his post-season hopes.

Stenhosue gets the nod to return to JTG Daugherty Racing in 2022

In the past ten races, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. fail to score a single finish better than 16th. In five of the ten races he finished 21st or worse. Stenhouse finished the year with just one top-5, two top-10s, six DNFs, a 19.7 average finish, and 22nd in the NASCAR Cup Series points standings. Nevertheless, Stenhouse will be back at JTG Daugherty Racing next year as the team’s sole driver after being downsized to a single car. Hopefully, the increased allocation of resources to the No. 47 car will help Stenhouse do better on the track in 2022.

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