Ryan Preece during driver intros.

Ryan Preece during driver intros.


Ryan Preece at Circuit of the Americas.

Ryan Preece was understandably unhappy following the April 28 Dover race when he suffered his first DNF and worst result of the 2024 NASCAR Cup Series campaign due to something he said “could have been prevented,” finishing 37th while his three teammates all finished inside the top 20. Little did the driver of the No. 41 know but less than a week later, he would feel like he was flying solo once again, and it had nothing to do with a race. 

Instead, the 33-year-old revealed on X how he hadn’t been included in a study group of his Stewart-Haas Racing teammates when responding to a post by journalist Toby Christie.

“(thread 1/) Interesting note: Noah Gragson said on Tuesday that he, Chase Briscoe, and Josh Berry have started studying data and techniques in order to improve their speed. Gragson says the offer is up for anyone who wants to join the study session,” Christie wrote on X.

“The three Stewart-Haas drivers in the study group will all start from 17th or better, with two of them making it to the final round of qualifying. Ryan Preece, the one not part of the study group, will start 32nd on Sunday at Kansas.”

“Study group that I wasn’t aware of,” Preece replied to the post, including an unaware emoji.

Ryan Preece Wasn’t Happy After Dover 

Ryan Preece feeling like he’s not part of the SHR team is obviously an awkward situation. Unfortunately, it’s just the latest frustrating situation for the driver, who is in his second full-time season with the team. 

The previous occurred at Dover less than a week earlier when his cockpit filled with smoke, which he breathed in for dozens of laps, before he eventually retired the car in the first stage for his first DNF in 2024. The driver didn’t sugarcoat what he thought about it. 

“We can’t afford days like this,” Preece told reporters after his early exit. “I’m not going to be the one to say what happened, but it wasn’t necessary. It could have been prevented.”

Noah Gragson’s crew chief Drew Blickensderfer told Fox’s Bob Pockrass on May 2: “it was a self-inflicted error that a little change in process that someone didn’t catch and it was close to happening on all of our cars.” 

Ryan Preece Part of Changed Stewart-Haas Culture in 2024

It was close to happening to all of the SHR cars, but didn’t. It’s not hard to see how fans of the No. 41 might try and link what happened at Dover with what the driver said about being excluded from the team study group. Some are even going so far as suggesting that both are signs that the organization will be selling off one or more of its charters at the end of 2024 and Preece will be the odd man out.

All of that speculation is intriguing, but doesn’t align with what Chase Briscoe said about the organization’s drivers at Circuit of the Americas in March. 

“The dynamic of the place is kind of different, at least from the driver’s side,” Briscoe said. “You know, when I came into the Cup Series, I was just super quiet and like at our competition meetings, Kevin (Harvick) and Aric (Almirola) had been in the sport 10-15 years and they were going to steer the ship at the place.

“Where now I feel like I definitely can use my voice and kind of be more of a leader. And I feel more confident in that, too. So it’s been nice to kind of have that luxury now of just feeling like I can kind of speak my own opinion and if I’m passionate about something, make them aware that I’m passionate about it.

“So you put all that together and you have four guys now that just have a lot to prove. We only have one win between the four of us. So we all are super hungry to go out there and prove what we can do. And, I just think all of our personalities jive pretty well together. And the shop attitude is different.

“All four of us are at the shop a ton where in the past, you didn’t really see the drivers there too much. Where Ryan and Noah are practically there every single day. And then, Josh (Berry) and I are there three days a week, typically. So we just are there a lot and around the guys a lot. And that morale, I feel like has shown.”

They’re around each other a lot. Apparently, that doesn’t include the study group.

Kyle Dalton covers NASCAR for Heavy.com. He has more than 30 years of experience covering high school, college and professional sports, including stories for the Austin American-Statesman, San Antonio-Express News, Detroit News and Sportscasting.com. More about Kyle Dalton

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