Ryan Preece has repeatedly said he wasn’t worried about qualifying for the Daytona 500 despite not having a charter this season.
Preece’s No. 37 JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet wound up as an open car this season when Todd Braun took the charter elsewhere. Braun had the rights to the charter, which JTG had been using the past few seasons.
Wednesday night, Preece qualified his way into the 63rd annual Daytona 500 by posting the fastest speed of the eight open cars. Asked afterward about the situation, Preece revealed the worst part of his day had nothing to do with what happened on the track.
“I think the most stressful thing of the day was when we were sitting on the grid, and we had the 15-minute delay (for a power outage), and I realized I had the wrong fire suit on,” said Preece. “So I had to run about a half-mile and change my suit. That was the most stressful thing I had going today.”
While Preece wasn’t worried, he did admit that things were tense within the team. But confidence was found during opening practice earlier in the day with the car’s speed when running by itself. Preece was the fastest of the open cars in practice.
“It didn’t worry me,” he said. “I said it a week ago at media day — my entire racing career has pretty much been full of moments like this. So, this is no other day to me.”
Now in the race, Preece will earn his official starting spot by competing in the first Duel race on Thursday night.
“We’re going to race,” said Preece of the plan. “We’re going to race hard, and it pays points, so we’ve got to try and put ourselves in a good position going into the road course next week.”
Preece isn’t sure what the team situation is regarding sponsorship for this season but said the plan is to show up each week and hope everything comes together.